DLM - Charlotte Sullivan Diploma in Designated Lay Ministry

There is no reason why our own people can’t be ministers in their communities. We should learn to take ownership of our churches. We should be self-sufficient and not rely on others to supply our spiritual needs. That is my dream.” – Charlotte Sullivan, Gitxsan

The Charlotte Sullivan Diploma in Designated Lay Ministry program is a community‐based program for Indigenous lay people, in which learning takes place where students live and serve.

Support the United Church and VST enable candidates to continue to serve in local ministry while studying to develop and practice the required competencies for Designated Lay Ministry. This context is crucial for effective integration of social, cultural, religious and political values of First Nations societies. In addition to community-based education students attend VST’s Indigenous Studies Program Summer School for two weeks in July. During its 30 years, 1000 students from 57 Indigenous tribes have either attended and/or taught in the Summer School.

Funding to support candidates for Designated Lay Ministry in the Charlotte Sullivan Diploma in Designated Lay Ministry program may be available through the United Church in Canada.



Overall Competencies

  • Spiritual and Personal Formation: able to demonstrate personal faith and vocational identity and display emotional maturity and moral integrity in themselves and in relation to others.
  • Teaching and Facilitating Learning in and of the Faith: able to implement a continuous learning plan for their own development in the faith and to work with the faith community to do the same within the religious heritage of the United Church of Canada.
  • Cultural and Contextual Analysis: able to understand and relate to the cultural and systemic realities of the environment in which the United Church of Canada serves.
  • Leadership within the Faith Community and Wider Community: able to practice ministry and provide leadership in ecclesial and public contexts in aboriginal communities.

Charlotte Sullivan Diploma Goals

  1. To provide contextually sensitive Christian leadership education for aboriginal leaders in BC
  2. To make this education accessible and relevant by facilitating learning close to First Nations’ communities in central and northern BC
  3. To use a combination of one-on-one, community-based, action-reflection model of learning which included learning goals that honour BC First Nations spiritual and cultural traditions.
  4. To encourage candidates for ministry who are affirmed by their communities to be Christian spiritual leaders
  5. To provide opportunity for students, during their education, to exercise their ministry under supervision.


Supervised Ministry Experience

Biblical, Christian and Indigenous Traditions

  • Hebrew Bible (Pentateuch/Prophets)
  • Synoptic Gospels, Paul, John
  • Early Christian Studies
  • Missionization
  • 21st Century Theologies
  • Indigenous theologies
  • Introduction to Christian Theology
  • Christology
  • Indigenous spiritualities
  • Introduction to Christian Ethics
  • United Church History
  • United Church Theologies

Pastoral Ministry and Practice

  • Pastoral Care
  • Communication practices for reconciliation
  • Care for sick and dying
  • Family systems and counseling
  • Understanding pastoral needs related to addictions and trauma
  • Spiritual practice and healing
  • United Church Polity

Worship and Spiritual Practice

  • Introduction to Christian worship
  • Preaching
  • Ritual, sacraments, and long house
  • United Church worship
  • Prayer
  • Special Services

Education and Formation

  • Support and programming for aboriginal children and youth
  • Adult Christian education and leadership development


[S] – Courses offered at the Indigenous Studies Program Summer School.
*Students are strongly encouraged by the ISP Director to take the course.

Biblical, Christian, and Indigenous Traditions

(must chose at least one)

History of Christianity

Christian Theology

(must choose at least two)

Christian Ethics

Indigenous Spiritualities

  • Indigenous Spiritualties (SPX511) [S]

Christian Worship and FN Ritual

Worship, Prayer, and Special Services

Ministry Theory and Practice

(must choose two)

Education and Formation

  • Teaching the Traditions (EDX500)*
  • Youth Ministry
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Adult Education and Leadership

Denominational Formation

(must choose one)


For more information please contact the Indigenous Studies Program office, isp@vst.edu.