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School of Theology and Ministry

Economics & Pastoral Leadership Project


The issue of student debt has become a hot topic across the nation--from recently released documentary films to numerous articles and special news reports in a variety of periodicals and publications. And for good reason! While all agree student debt burden is as a serious problem, solutions remain to be seen. The work of solving this problem will require collaboration from a variety of entities, including from the gamut of higher education institutions.

Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is committed to addressing this critical issue, particularly for seminary students. The school has launched a new initiative through the generosity of funding by Lilly Endowment Inc.-- the Economics & Pastoral Leadership Project--to begin to deeply analyze seminary student debt through a multi-layered research effort. In addition to the debt burden itself, the school recognizes that seminary graduates often launch into the complex world of pastoral leadership without sufficient financial literacy and budget management training for their organizational leadership. The Project will result in the creation of curricula that increase financial and management literacy of current seminary students, alumni and working pastoral leaders. Courses will be designed for on-campus learning as well as distance education, to enable broader access.

Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is one of only three theological education institutions on the United States’ West Coast invited by Lilly Endowment Inc. to participate in this national effort to address seminary student debt.

Research Study

The project team is currently recruiting participants to assist in the research study. Learn more here! 

Objectives & Outcomes

As a part of this research model, project staff and participants will form new local and regional partnerships by engaging regional pastoral leaders and executives to dynamically engage the connection between effective pastoral leadership and student debt burden.

Research data will be culled at the local, regional, and national level to identify the scope of the issue of the student debt for ministry students and graduates, as well as pastors who have worked in ministry for 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, and 16-20 years.

A new curriculum model will be built, including thoroughly vetted courses in financial literacy and management by experts in those fields.  Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is partnering with the university’s Albers School of Business and Economics, including its faculty and partners, as the school has been highly ranked in its class nationally by U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Opportunities for Partnership & Collaboration

  • Participate in the research phase of the project as current student, alumni, working pastor, or pastoral leader
  • Apply or nominate someone to serve as a member on the Financial Literacy and Management in Ministry Council
  • Assist in the development of financial literacy and management curriculum


Contact Us

Dean Mark S. Markuly, PhD, Project Director
Thanh-Thuong T. ChuChe, MA, Program Manager
206-296-5330 | 


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