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SFTS announces the Shaw Chaplaincy Institute for Spiritual Care + Compassionate Leadership

Institute represents an expansion of the seminary’s Clinical Pastoral Education program

by San Francisco Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The San Francisco Theological Seminary campus in San Anselmo, Calif. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Theological Seminary)

SAN ANSELMO, Calif.  — San Francisco Theological Seminary in Marin County announces the transformation of its Clinical Pastoral Education program into the Shaw Chaplaincy Institute for Spiritual Care + Compassionate Leadership.

According to a seminary news release, the newly expanded institute promises to be an educational beacon, serving as a multicultural, interpersonal and interfaith education program that will provide new and enlightening opportunities for religious leaders and public service professionals.

Through partnerships with healthcare organizations, medical schools, nursing schools, law schools, and social science/social care departments, the SCI will teach students how caring practices are expressed across cultures and religious traditions. It also includes continuing education to help nurses, physicians, lawyers, social workers, and chaplains enhance their caregiving skills.

“The Shaw Chaplaincy Institute reflects the future of theological education where spiritual care is interpersonal, interreligious, multicultural, interprofessional, and international,” said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, creator of the SCI. “Our students will learn to offer spiritual care to people of varied cultural and religious backgrounds by building relationships and bringing compassionate leadership into their professional lives.”

The SCI will serve as a school within a school, offering a multitude of educational and career pathways, which includes the following programs:

  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) — The Seminary’s CPE program will serve as the centerpiece of the new SCI. This graduate-level program is offered for pastors, religious professionals, theology students and qualified laypersons who seek further development of their pastoral skills.
  • New Academic Programs — In addition to SFTS’s available graduate degree programs and continuing education certificates, the SCI is introducing a new two-year Master of the Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) degree program with a concentration in Spiritual Care and Compassionate Leadership as a Shaw Scholar. The MATS is geared toward spiritual “generalists” who want to apply the principles of compassion to their vocations and professions, but do not necessarily want to seek a formal CPE path. This may include lawyers, business professionals, physicians, nurses, teachers, or any other traditional career path.
  • Community Engagement Program — The SCI introduces new community engagement programs for students to learn by bringing spiritual care directly to persons in need. From theological reflection on specific human situations, students gain a new understanding of caring and compassionate leadership. In addition to service opportunities, the program includes professional process groups and congregational workshops to provide leaders with tools and training in “caring activism.”

The program expansion is the result of a $2 million donation from SFTS alumnus Rev. Dr. John Shaw, who served as a parish pastor for more than 20 years, continued his theological studies by completing Clinical Pastoral Education and transitioned his ministry vocation to hospital chaplaincy, becoming the Director of Spiritual Care. As it relates to the forthcoming merger between SFTS and University of Redlands, the SCI will carry forward under the Graduate School of Theology at the University of Redlands.

For more information, please visit the SCI website by clicking here.

About San Francisco Theological Seminary

SFTS is a leading graduate theological school rooted in the values of social justice, spirituality and innovation. For nearly 150 years, SFTS has prepared students from around the world for various forms of ministry. Located in Marin County, California, SFTS offers doctoral, masters, and certificate programs for people from all walks of life, on campus and online. SFTS is a founding member of, and partners with, the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley — the most comprehensive center for the graduate study of religion in North America. For more information, visit

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