Residency Program

Interested in making a donation to the First Pres Resident Ministry Program? Donate online here.

About The Program

First Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan is a national leader in mentoring exceptional first-call pastors in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Our two-year residency program invites a small cohort of recent seminary graduates into the active, vibrant ministry of a large church in a dynamic university town. Our program model combines action and reflection to deepen call, awaken strengths, and develop the next generation of church leaders.

The next rotation of the program begins in August 2019 and continues for two full years. Residency cohorts are composed of three individuals who hold particular promise for ministry. All residents are seeking their first called position. Applicants must be on track for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and have earned the M. Div. degree. Preference will be given to 2019 seminary graduates. Leadership is provided by Rev. Jay Sanderford, Program Coordinator.

Residency at First Pres is...


First Pres residents jump into the work of full-time parish ministry on arrival in Ann Arbor. From a core engagement in worship leadership, preaching, and pastoral care, residents explore other essential facets of ministry, with mentorship from senior staff, to develop their vocational interests and skills.


Positive pastoral leadership grows from active reflection on one’s congregation, one’s community, and oneself. Opportunities for peer-based learning, self-assessment, and constructive feedback are integral to our program. Residents meet regularly as a cohort with the Program Director and Head of Staff, process challenges and develop strategies together, and build a strengths-based sense of their pastoral identities.


Residents leave First Pres ready to navigate the challenges of 21st century ministry and to flourish in diverse pastoral settings. The intensive, purposeful nature of the program equips residents with practical skills for ministry and enriches their core vocational values so that they are ready to serve God’s people with versatility and integrity.

Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is a friendly, highly livable city offering myriad cultural, intellectual, political, and social resources, along with world-class University of Michigan academics and athletics. Resident ministers interact with a congregation that includes members of a globally diverse population of faculty and students at the University as well as residents from Ann Arbor, Detroit and Southeastern Michigan. Learn more about Ann Arbor at

Ann Arbor photos courtesy of

Resident in Parish Ministry

The Resident Ministry Program gives talented seminary graduates the opportunity to make the transition from seminary to a lifetime of effective ministry and leadership in congregations. Located in one of America’s premier university towns, First Presbyterian-Ann Arbor is a vital, growing church with approximately 2000 members. We are proud to claim this teaching ministry as a key part of our mission, and after years of support from the Lilly Endowment, our congregation enthusiastically committed to sustain the program and has secured a substantial endowment for that purpose.

The Residency Program is designed to enhance the academic preparation of newly ordained graduates in powerful ways and ground them in the practice of ministry. From a core engagement in worship leadership, preaching, and pastoral care, residents explore other essential facets of ministry, with mentorship from senior staff, to develop their unique vocational interests and skills. Because the program is peer-based, it fosters reflective practice. Residents meet regularly as a group with the Program Coordinator  and Head of Staff, to process challenges and develop strategies together, and build a strengths-based sense of their pastoral identities. Having participated in all facets of the day-to-day life of a large and diverse congregation, residents leave First Pres. ready to navigate the challenges of 21st century ministry in a wide variety of pastoral settings.

Residents serve two years in validated ministry positions, are compensated at appropriate levels, and participate in the benefits offered by the PCUSA Board of Pensions. During their second year, they receive careful advice and coaching so they are better prepared to respond to their next calls.


The central purpose of the program is to prepare Residents to be effective leaders of the congregations they will serve throughout their ministries. The program assists Residents as they work with the staff and members of the congregation of the church toward these goals.

  1. Developing healthy work patterns and leadership styles for parish ministry. This is accomplished through the example and mentoring of the staff, through immersion in the best practices of leadership and during a series of flexible rotations in critical areas of congregational life. Active reflection on the practice of ministry is a key component of the program. Practices to encourage transformation and organizational change are learned and applied.
  2. Achieving a deeper understanding of the internal dynamics growing from the life, motivations, faith, hopes and frustrations of members of the congregation. Partnerships with congregants are formed through relationships, committee leadership, program development and pastoral care. Residents relate to key leaders, colleagues and staff in their rotations and to members of the Resident Ministry Work Group. They experience rich relationships with members of the congregation and community.
  3. Making a strong connection between theological and biblical studies and the day-to-day work of parish ministry. Residents participate in conversations about their experiences, reading and work during weekly conversations with the Program Coordinator and other pastors. They relate their academic studies to the actual programs that are a part of successful congregational and community ministry.
  4. Developing a greater awareness of the character and nature of their own call to Christian ministry. Through a variety of carefully selected and shared experiences in the many aspects of congregational ministry, the breadth and particularity for discerning ones ongoing sense of call is enhanced.

If you have further questions, please contact:

       Rev. Jay Sanderford, Program Coordinator

Resident Ministry Endowment

For more than a decade, First Presbyterian has been blessed by the presence of an unusual group of young ministers who have come to our church to learn and to be inspired, and in the process, have inspired us and taught us.

We are now called upon to make the program our own. After consultations with the Lilly Endowment, those at First Pres who formed this ministry, members of the congregation, and a capital campaign committee, an initiative is underway to establish a permanent $5 million endowment that will sustain the program in perpetuity.

To make a contribution or to learn more, visit our Resident Ministry Endowment page.