The Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee invite nominations for and expressions of interest in the position of President of Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Lancaster Theological Seminary is an inclusive, ecumenical community of faith and learning. It is one of six seminaries associated with the United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination committed to a just world for all. Lancaster Theological Seminary is known for academic excellence, celebration of differences across Christian faith traditions, and creative engagement on issues important to our world. At any one time, Lancaster Seminary’s student body may represent 20 or more different denominations as well as individuals without denominational affiliation.

UPDATE: Feb. 16, 2021 The search is temporarily on hold. Please stay tuned for additional updates.

Chair of the Presidential Search Committee
The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, MDiv 2007, DMin 2016 Trustee and Alumni Representative

Ms. Rebekah Burch Basinger — Trustee
Dr. Greg Carey — Professor of New Testament, Faculty
The Rev. Ken Daniel — Trustee
Mr. Jon Gruber, Esq. — Community Member
Ms. Patricia Hopson-Shelton — Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees
The Rev. Dr. Vanessa Lovelace — VP of Academic Affairs, Dean, and Assoc. Prof. of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Staff, Faculty
Dr. Francine McNairy-Nelson — Trustee
The Rev. Freeman Palmer — Trustee, UCC Conference Minister
Ms. Jennifer Weitzel — Moderator of the Seminarian Community Council, Student representative

The Leadership Opportunity

The next President of Lancaster Theological Seminary will be called to build upon the Seminary’s long and proud tradition of educating leaders for church and society in a setting that is multi-denominational, inclusive and academically excellent during a remarkable time of uncertainty and change for all of theological education.  The LTS community looks forward to working with the new President to address simultaneously a number of opportunities and challenges that include the following:

Shaping a Vision for the Future

The changing landscape for theological education is well known and widely documented. Leadership needs and expectations of the Church are changing, new avenues for ministry and service are emerging, and a new, more diverse generation of students is enrolling. Given these (and other) changes, the new President will be expected to work with the LTS community in shaping a vision for the future that will energize and focus the mission and role of LTS.

Developing a Strategic Plan

While vision and mission naturally focus on the “where” and “why” of the Seminary’s future, a strong, community-based planning process is needed to address the “how” of Lancaster’s work. The issues are many, and range from marketing and student recruitment, to curricular focus and emphasis, modes of instruction, and placement of graduates. The next President will have the opportunity to work closely with a talented and committed Board, faculty, and staff in developing this important blueprint for the future.

Continuing the Focus on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

LTS is deeply committed to becoming a more diverse community that is marked by equity and inclusion. LTS’s student body is now more diverse than the Seminary’s faculty and staff, so the new President will be expected to provide leadership as LTS works to become a more fully inclusive community that welcomes and celebrates the rich and increasing diversity of the human family.

Moving Toward a Stable Financial Model

Financial uncertainty seemingly is a way of life for independent theological seminaries like LTS. In part because of the generous gifts (mentioned at right), Lancaster has done relatively well in adjusting and balancing operating budgets. Even so, with the Seminary’s financial future marked by uncertainty, developing a sustainable financial model is a high priority as a medium-to-longer-range objective for the new President and new administration.

Increasing Philanthropic Support

Lancaster has benefitted in recent years from the generosity of many, including a few very large contributions that support the current budget and that have helped the Seminary absorb the impact of smaller enrollments. Some of these multiyear gifts will be completed soon so the new administration will face the challenge of moving quickly to identify and secure new philanthropic support for LTS operations and programs.

Completing a Campus Redevelopment Plan

The LTS community is understandably proud of and feels a strong attachment to the Seminary’s historic campus. At the same time, smaller enrollments, more online education, and the increasing costs of aging buildings have raised questions about the future use of the campus. The next administration will have the opportunity to address this sensitive and important issue.

Building Enrollment by Strengthening Marketing & Recruitment

As is true of nearly all seminaries, LTS’s enrollment has decreased in recent years, and has shifted from the weekday toward the weekend MDiv program. These changes have put pressure on Seminary finances, and, at the same time, increased faculty and administrative workload. They underscore the importance of a clear strategy and effective programs for marketing and student recruiting, and the importance of having a new President who will engage with and support these efforts.

Continuing the Focus on Students

LTS stands out as a student-centered institution. Faculty, staff and board members speak with care and pride about students and alumni. Students often choose LTS, and speak highly of their experiences here, because of the close, supportive and mentoring relationships that shape their Seminary education. Students strongly express the hope that the new President will continue and advance this tradition and find joy both in knowing and being known by students.

Building Community on Campus & Beyond

A close and supportive sense of community has long been a hallmark and strength of LTS. However, recent years of financial stress, changes in leadership, and uncertainty about the future have taken a toll. The Seminary community will look to our new President as a campus community builder for students, faculty and staff. The President also will be expected to build effective relationships with the greater Lancaster community, the region, and, very importantly, the United Church of Christ.

Desired Leadership Characteristics

The President is the chief executive and administrative officer of Lancaster Theological Seminary and carries the overall responsibility to fulfill the Seminary’s mission.The successful candidate for this position will be a person of deep and vibrant faith in the progressive Christian tradition who holds an earned doctorate, professional master’s or other terminal degree. A successful record of teaching and administrative experience in higher education along with previous leadership experience within a church context are preferred.

In addition, the person best suited to fill this role may be described in terms of the following

An experienced mission-oriented leader whose life and work exemplifies an understanding of and commitment to the Seminary’s mission to “educate and nurture leaders to join God’s redemptive and liberating work so that all creation may flourish.”

A creative and visionary leader who understands the challenges and opportunities facing theological education and the Church, and the broader landscape of higher education.

An effective strategic planner who is visionary in outlook, collaborative in approach, and who has demonstrated effectiveness in moving an institution forward.

A proven advocate and activist for diversity, equity and inclusion in all dimensions of Seminary programs and activity.

A strong administrator who has demonstrated the ability to build effective executive teams to oversee Seminary operations and embody the highest values of transparency, integrity and trust.

An enthusiastic fundraiser who is ready to lead and personally engage the process of sustaining and expanding philanthropic support for the Seminary.

An energetic marketer who will work with and support the Lancaster community in “telling the Seminary’s story,”and in reaching out to potential student markets with a goal of stabilizing and increasing enrollment.

A creative academic leader who is ready to work with faculty, staff and academic administrators in exploring new program possibilities and in shaping the Seminary’s academic program for the future.

A relationship builder who is effective in reaching out to all segments of the Seminary’s constituencies including the Church, alumni, prospective students, the Lancaster community and beyond.

A visible campus leader who enjoys the public role of the President as a role model, mentor for and supporter of students, faculty and staff.

An individual who understands and has experience with nonprofit governance who is prepared to work effectively with the Board of Trustees in a time of change and challenge, and to build an everstronger Board to support LTS.

An exceptional communicator who informs and engages the LTS campus community and the Seminary’s key constituents, and who is skilled in using the full range of available media.

Applications & Nominations

Lancaster Theological Seminary has retained AGB Search to assist in the recruitment of its new President. Potential candidates are encouraged to contact Executive Search Consultant Dr. Loren Anderson at

Submit Application & Nomination Materials Electronically

  • Application and nomination materials should be submitted electronically to
  • To receive full consideration, application materials should be submitted no later than January 25, 2021.
  • All candidate names and information will remain strictly confidential until the search process reaches the final interview stage.

Application Materials Must Include:

  • A letter of interest, which responds directly to the leadership opportunity and the desired leadership characteristics listed in the Search Profile,
  • A curriculum vitae, and
  • The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of five professional references (please indicate your relationship with each). No references will be contacted without prior permission granted by the candidate.

Search Updates

TO: The Lancaster Theological Seminary Community
FROM: The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, Chair, Presidential Search
February 16, 2021
Lancaster Theological Seminary’s search for a new president has been suspended at the request of the Board of Trustees. Following thoughtful discussions held during the recent February Board and faculty retreat, Board members decided that it would be best to suspend the process before candidate interviews got underway.
This is a time of rapid, transformational change both in higher education and seminaries, as well as in the church and society. We want to take the time now to make sure that we have a clear understanding of the path forward for our Seminary and the leadership needed to guide our next steps into the future with a bold vision “so that all God’s creation may flourish.”
As always, we remain committed to keeping you up to date as events unfold.
TO: The Lancaster Theological Seminary Community
FROM: The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, Chair, Presidential Search
February 5, 2021
The search for our new President is progressing on schedule.
The Search Committee met most recently on January 29. At that meeting, the Committee selected a small of group of candidates whose backgrounds and experience ­seem especially consistent with the experience and qualifications established for the search. These semi-final candidates have been invited to meet with the Search Committee for a preliminary virtual interview in mid-February. In the meantime, Committee members are interviewing the references for these candidates.
Following the completion of the preliminary interviews, the Search Committee will select finalists who will be asked to participate in more extensive final interviews which will occur in March.
We are pleased with the progress of our search and we will correspond again as soon as possible following the conclusion of our preliminary interviews with the semi-finalist candidates.  Thank you for your continued interest, support and prayers.

TO: The Lancaster Theological Seminary Community

FROM: The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, Chair, Presidential Search


January 8, 2021
I write once again to update you on the Lancaster Seminary Presidential Search Process.
The Search Committee held its most recent meeting on Tuesday, January 5. At this meeting, the Search Committee updated the search timetable and schedule, reviewed the most recent job description for the President, and held an in-depth conversation focused on the criteria by which each application will be assessed. An assessment rubric for evaluating the written applications was reviewed and adopted by the Committee.
Over the next few weeks, the Committee will be focused on evaluating the applications that have been received. This process will continue until the Committee meets to select a short list of semi-finalists in late January.
The Search Committee is continuing to receive nominations and applications for the position. A number of you already have submitted names, and we encourage all of you to review the search profile, and send your suggestions to our AGB Search consultant Dr. Loren Anderson,, or at 253-223-3566.
We thank you for your support of the search process. We will next report to you regarding the progress of our search in early February.

TO: The Lancaster Theological Seminary Community
FROM: The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, Chair, Presidential Search

December 14, 2020

I write to once again provide an update on the Presidential Search Process.

The Search Committee met most recently on Thursday, Dec. 3. The purpose of this meeting was to review the progress of our search to date, and to engage the Search Committee in a conversation about our candidate evaluation process to ensure that the search process is equitable for all candidates. To that end, an anti-bias discussion was proactively built into the search process by the AGB Search consultants for this meeting’s agenda, prior to the work of reviewing applications.

An engaging and insightful anti-bias discussion was led by Dr. Kim Bobby, executive search consultant from AGB Search. Her anti-bias work and experience spans her years with AGB Search, as well as time at the American Council on Education and as Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Puget Sound.

Work continues on the development of our candidate pool. As requested in our last update report, we hope that you will review the search profile on our website, and send the names of potential candidates and/or nominators to, or send names directly to our AGB Search consultant Dr. Loren Anderson,

We have adjusted the full consideration application deadline from Jan. 6 to Jan. 25 to provide additional time for candidates to complete their materials following the upcoming holiday. As you know, the success of our search depends on building a strong and diverse pool of able and interested candidates, and your suggestions and nominations are a key part of this effort.

The Search Committee will meet next on Tuesday, Jan. 5 and will begin reviewing applications following that meeting. And we will be sending you our next search update following that meeting. Please accept our best wishes for a blessed holiday season.

TO: The Lancaster Theological Seminary Community
FROM: The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, Chair, Presidential Search


November 5, 2020

I am writing to you to provide an update on the Presidential Search process. The Presidential Search Committee met Friday, Oct. 23, to review and approve the search profile that will guide our Presidential search. It was prepared by our consultant from AGB Search and LTS and informed by the listening sessions AGB Search Consultant Dr. Loren Anderson conducted with members of the campus community. Thank you to everyone who participated in those sessions.

The search profile will be available online on the LTS website when we officially launch our search tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 6. The Search Committee urges you to review the profile and to reflect on the leadership opportunities and the desired characteristics for leadership described in the profile. We encourage you to suggest the names of those who might serve effectively as our new President, or others who might know of potential candidates. Please email the name(s) and contact information for potential candidates and/or nominators to You may also refer names directly to our search consultant Dr. Loren Anderson at

The success of our search depends on building a strong and diverse pool of able and interested candidates, and your suggestions and nominations are a key part of that effort.

During November and December, we will generate a candidate pool through nominations received from you, educational and church leaders across the country, a national program of targeted advertisements, and from the work of our consultant. In December, the Search Committee will begin to review applications. In early January, the Search Committee will narrow the candidate pool in preparation for preliminary interviews. Campus interviews are anticipated by late February or early March.

The search is off to a strong start! I will send an update following the next Search Committee meeting in early December. Thank you, in advance, for your help in identifying candidates for our next President and participating in the process.

TO: The Lancaster Theological Seminary Community
FROM: Brian R. Bodager, Chair, Board of Trustees


September 29, 2020

I am pleased to provide you with this update on the search process for the selection of Lancaster Theological Seminary’s 13th president. We have engaged AGB Search to help us and a Presidential Search Committee has been formed, chaired by the Reverend Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, a trustee and alumna (MDiv 2007, DMin 2016). Click here to see the members of the Search Committee.

The Rev. Dr. Dawkins-Smith will be sending you a progress update after each meeting of the Search Committee. At its Sept. 23, 2020 meeting, the Search Committee reviewed the Charge to the Committee, adopted a schedule and timetable for the search, and discussed the search profile that will guide the search. That profile will include a statement of the leadership opportunities offered by the Seminary, as well as the leadership attributes and experience qualifications that will describe the successful candidate.

The weeks immediately ahead will be focused on completing the search profile. As a part of that process, our AGB Search consultant, Dr. Loren Anderson, will be hosting a series of virtual listening sessions for members of the campus community during the week of October 5 as well as providing an online survey. A detailed schedule for those events is currently being prepared.

The search will officially launch in early November. During November and December, we will focus on building the candidate pool. The Search Committee expects to conduct a round of initial interviews in early February, and to invite finalists for campus interviews in late February.

The Search Committee is well aware that our search will be strengthened by the involvement and support of our Lancaster Seminary community. We welcome your input. When the search goes public in November, we hope that you will review the search profile, and forward the names of potential candidates to our AGB Search consultant, Dr. Loren Anderson, at

Look for the next update from Rev. Dr. Dawkins-Smith following the October 23 Search Committee meeting. Thank you in advance for your support and your engagement in this important process.

Best Regards,
Brian R. Bodager

Lancaster Seminary

Building for the Future

Established in 1825 by members of German Reformed churches in Pennsylvania to educate clergy to serve America’s fledgling churches, the Lancaster Theological Seminary has expanded its mission to serve a more diverse Church and global society.

In its early years, the Seminary made its home in several towns in southern Pennsylvania before settling in Lancaster in 1871, where it held classes on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College.

In 1894, the Seminary moved across the street into its newly built Romanesque Revival academic building located on the three-acre historic campus where it continues today.

Over the 20th century, the Seminary expanded its mission from preparing clergy for congregational or missionary careers into a fully accredited graduate school of theology providing education for both lay and ordained leaders who seek to serve in positions ranging from the pulpit to the public square, from schools to social services. Innovative, accredited degree programs include Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Arts in Ministry & Leadership. Newer offerings include the Certificate in Theological Studies and the Certificate in Anglican Studies, a joint program with the Stevenson School for Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

In 2020, the Seminary opened the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary, offering noncredit classes for lay leaders, individuals in discernment and clergy seeking continuing education.

Over the last several years, Lancaster Theological Seminary has faced the challenges of an increasingly competitive environment for theological education by taking affirmative action. The Seminary redesigned the core degree program to offer the Master of Divinity in two tracks, weekdays and weekends. The tighter curriculum with fewer credits offers students a more predictable schedule, making it possible to maintain outside employment while matriculating.

LTS GraduatesThe Seminary redesigned the Doctor of Ministry program to offer working clergy the opportunity to learn in-person with their cohort during two on-campus intensive weeks per year while attending classes online. The revamped program that integrates faith, theology, and ministerial practice has attracted students from across the U.S. and Mexico.

The Seminary launched a new professional degree, the Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership, available in a two-year or three-year program that cultivates leadership capacities for those already in active ministry.

Lancaster was one of only 10 seminaries in the United States to pilot — and then expand — a unique program to reduce student debt, making it possible for more students to afford a seminary education and even graduate with less — or no — educational loan debt.

The Seminary also increased its Admissions team, added new technology to better target and track potential students in discernment, and expanded its scholarship programs. To extend our reach, the Seminary has partnered with nearby Elizabethtown College to offer an accelerated bachelor’s degree completion program for undergraduates interested in graduate theological studies.

Vision – Mission – Values

The Seminary’s collective aspiration:

As a Christ-centered community, we empower
individuals, leaders, communities, and churches
to thrive as we engage the emerging needs of God’s world.

The Seminary is guided by the inspiring vision:

Lancaster Theological Seminary is where
God transforms us to transform others and the world.

The Seminary’s mission is:

To educate and nurture leaders to join in
God’s liberating and redemptive work
so that all creation may flourish.

As a Christian seminary:

We value critical theological reflection in scholarship and practice.
We value diversity of perspectives and faith traditions.
We value students for who they are and who they are becoming, not just for what they know.
We value social justice.
We value faithful stewardship of time, talent, and resources.

Unique Attributes

During the development of the Seminary’s 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, the following distinctive characteristics of Lancaster Theological Seminary were affirmed:

We pursue diversity in theology and practice of ministry;

We empower students to bring their diverse voices and backgrounds to the learning experience;

We provide a holistic spiritual formation that includes cross-cultural learning and field education;

We actively work toward inclusivity and racial justice in community;

We are an inclusive and safe space in the region for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women who aspire to leadership.

Lancaster Theological Seminary takes a dynamic approach to theological education with a curriculum that stresses engagement with how faith is lived both personally and within the broader community and world. The educational philosophy and methods of instruction allow students to explore a range of beliefs while they are challenged, supported, and encouraged in their creativity and in thinking critically.

Our Community

A diverse and vibrant community, Lancaster is centrally located in southcentral Pennsylvania, an hour west of Philadelphia, and within an easy drive to New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

Lancaster, settled in 1709 and incorporated in 1729, is considered to be the oldest inland city in the United States. Lancaster City, with about 60,000 residents, is the cornerstone of a metropolitan area of more than a half million people. The area is rich in history (George Washington actually slept here with his troops during the Revolutionary War), featuring historic architecture and museums including the home of abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Lancaster has received national attention for its refugee resettlement programs as well as its inclusion on a number of national lists of “best places to live.” Lancaster boasts an active arts community, music and performance venues that attract national acts, nationally reviewed restaurants, a nationally ranked health care system, and nine colleges and universities.

The walkable urban center is surrounded by well-tended farmland, rolling hills and rivers, parks and preserves ideal for
outdoor adventures from hiking to boating to skiing. Explore more about Lancaster at


Middle States Commission on Higher Education – reaffirmed accreditation for a 10-year period ending in 2024.

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada The Commission on Accrediting reaffirmed accreditation for 10 years until 2024 for MDiv, MA in Religion, MA in Ministry & Leadership, DMin.

Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania / Division of Graduate and Professional Programs.

U.S. Department of Justice approval for enrollment of non-immigrant international students under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Pennsylvania State Approving Agency (Division of Veterans & Military Education) approval for Veteran Education.

University Senate of The United Methodist Church.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Lancaster Theological Seminary’s continuing policy is to afford Equal Employment Opportunity to qualified individuals regardless of their age, sex, color, race, creed, national origin, religion, marital status, citizenship status, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression preference, physical or mental disability, veteran status, or any other classification protected by law. This policy of equal opportunity encompasses all aspects of employment relationships, including recruiting, applications, hiring, initial employment, promotion, selection for training opportunities, wage/salary administration, reassignments, compensation, benefits, layoff and rehires, termination of employment, and the application of services, retirement, seniority, benefit plan policies and other terms and conditions of employment as provided by law.

Lancaster Theological Seminary, as part of its commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity, adheres to all city, state and federal laws with respect to Equal Employment Opportunity. All members of Administration are primarily responsible for seeing that Lancaster Seminary’s Equal Employment policies are implemented, but all staff shares in the responsibility for assuring that, by their personal actions, the policies are effective and uniformly applied.