By Holly Woolard
s a pastor nearing the
10th anniversary with his
first congregation after
seminary, Rev. Virstan
Choy needed more. His ministry had
reached a point where he needed a
fresh dash of theological stimulation
and colleague feedback. He found
what he was looking for through the
San Francisco Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry program.
It’s been more than 20 years since
Choy first began his studies at SFTS
and he returns as director of Advanced
Pastoral Studies, which includes over-
sight of the seminary’s D.Min. pro-
gram. For those who find themselves
in situations similar to that which
Choy encountered while serving as
pastor of the Chinese Community
Church in Sacramento, Calif., from
1975-86, and then as associate execu-
tive presbyter for the Presbytery of San
Jose from 1986-91, he is sensitive to
your needs for renewal and retooling.
“It came to the point where my
approach to ministry skills develop-
ment just didn’t do it anymore,” said
Choy, who had sought help through
journals and books, lectures and work-
shops. “What I was looking for was
something more dis-
ciplined. I needed new
wisdom and advanced
skills in leading and
cultivating leadership
in the congregation,
not just some new pro-
gram ideas.”
In his new posi-
tion at SFTS, Choy’s
primary roles are
twofold: Continue to
develop the renowned D.Min. pro-
gram that for more than 50 years has
helped church leaders refresh their
calls, update professional skills and
stir the wellspring of creative minis-
try; and provide innovative ways to
nurture pastors and others engaged in
the practice of ministry who are hun-
gry for a ministry boost, but may not
qualify for admission to the D.Min.
degree program or have the interest or
time to write a dissertation.
Being an SFTS grad, Choy is espe-
cially appreciative of the legacy left by
predecessors Henry Adams (1961-69),
John Hadsell (1970-81), Walt Davis
(1981-2000), Warren Lee (2000-08),
Lewis Rambo (2009-10) and Scott
Sullender (2010-12). “I want to be a
faithful steward of what has been en-
trusted to me — not just the program,
but the people and the partnerships as
well,” he said.
From 1992-2000,
Choy served as direc-
tor of field education
and integrative stud-
ies at SFTS, which
allowed him to work
closely with Master
of Divinity students.
He’s still involved in
supporting the minis-
tries of several of those
former students, including parish as-
sociate work for Rev. Veronica Goines
(M.Div. ’95 ) at St. Andrew Presby-
terian Church in Marin City, Calif.,
and co-teaching in the McCormick
Theological Seminary Executive Lead-
ership Program with Sarah Moore-
New SFTS director of
Advanced Pastoral Studies
committed to nurturing
“communities of practice”
“I want to be
a faithful steward
of what has been
entrusted to me.”
— Rev. Dr. Virstan Choy
SFTS CHIMES | Fall 2012
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