About the Diploma in the Art of
Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction is a covenant relationship in which one Christian assists another or others in the discernment of God's presence and the contemplative living out of God's call.

San Francisco Theological Seminary recognizes its call to exercise spiritual leadership in the Church and in the world. Toward this end, SFTS educates and prepares men and women (ordained and non-ordained) for the ministry of spiritual direction. Through the resources of its Program in Christian Spirituality, SFTS offers the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction (DASD) as a program under the seminary's sponsorship.

With its January intensives and year-round, home-site supervision, the DASD program offers you an inviting opportunity for prayer, study and practical experience focused on the nature and practice of spiritual direction. The DASD program combines solid academic work with time for retreat, worship, celebration, prayer, contemplation of God's presence in our lives and focused practice of, and reflection on, the art of spiritual direction. The January intensives are times of intense learning, self-exploration and attention to God's re-creative presence grounded in traditional and contemporary expressions of our faith in Christ.

The DASD program rests upon the following convictions. First, it recognizes Scripture as its theological and spiritual foundation. In particular, it recognizes the call to servant friendship made clear in John 15:15, and it acknowledges the proclamation of the ancient christological hymn preserved in Philippians 2 that God is present among us and desires to be in relationship with humankind. Second, the DASD program is grounded in a covenantal theology based upon God's initiative as expressed most deeply by Christ's indwelling. Third, the program embodies its Protestant heritage by focusing on the congregation as the locus of spiritual guidance. It honors the call of the Church to be reformed and always reforming and works for the transformation of unjust structures and ultimately of the world.

Upon successful completion of the course of studies and supervision, a diploma of completion will be conferred. The Seminary emphasizes that this diploma does not imply credentialing as a spiritual director per se, inasmuch as the ministry of spiritual direction is constituted by a call from God, is instituted by a specific invitation to exercise this ministry, and is authenticated by its fruits.

Visions and Assumptions
The Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction seeks to honor the heart as well as the head; to attend to the body along with the soul; to probe the psyche in the context of the spirit; and to deepen contemplative awareness of God's presence in all things. This vision rests upon the following assumptions:

  • Scripture offers us the presence of God in Jesus Christ.

  • God is present in every dimension of human life: personal, interpersonal, societal, and environmental.

  • Attending to God's presence transforms individuals, families, communities, and institutions.

  • God leads each person in unique ways - through creative invitations and challenges.

  • The spiritual direction relationship provides a freeing model for the role of the pastor or lay leader as spiritual guide in a congregation.


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Educational Programs

Master of Divinity
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Doctor of Ministry
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
Program in Christian Spirituality

Contact Information

San Francisco Theological Seminary
105 Seminary Rd
San Anselmo CA, 94960
Phone: 415.451.2800
email: info@sfts.edu