Residency Program

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.

  • Click here to learn more about our current Resident Ministry Cohort.
  • Click here to find out where our past Resident Ministers are now in their journey.
  • Click here for a PDF of the 2023 Application Flyer.

Now Recruiting 2023-2025 Resident Minister Cohort

Between Fall 2022 and Spring 2023, we will be recruiting our 12th cohort of Resident Ministers. The First Presbyterian-Ann Arbor Residency Program allows talented seminary graduates to make the transition from seminary to a lifetime of effective ministry and leadership in congregations.

Through immersive practice in ministry, combined with regular reflection and feedback, the residency enables new clergy to build the kind of skills and practices, both professional and personal, which will provide a firm foundation for a lifetime of effective service in pastoral ministry.

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.

Application Process
Application Deadline:  January 31, 2023.
You may click here to apply online.  As part of the application process, you will be asked to upload two documents:

1.  Letter of Introduction that includes the following:

  • Your reasons for seeking placement in a pastoral residency program and this one in particular.
  • A description of a mentoring relationship and two or three significant ways it shaped you.
  • How your background and life experiences have shaped your call.
  • Your contact information, including phone and email.

2.  Seminary Transcript

If you do not have control of your transcripts, there is a place on the application form for you to provide additional information.

Interviews for finalists will take place in Ann Arbor March 10, 11 & 12, 2023. First Presbyterian will make arrangments and pay all costs for travel, lodging, and meals while you are interviewing in Ann Arbor.
If you have any questions, please contact the Rev. Jay Sanderford at
Core Program Goals

The Resident Ministry Program at First Presbyterian-Ann Arbor 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. Core program goals include:

  • Experiencing the full range of parish ministry and applying biblical and theological study to the day-to-day work of being a pastor
    Resident Ministers are full-time pastoral staff members with broad leadership opportunities and responsibilities. Residents learn to be generalists in ministry as they gain experience and develop proficiency in critical areas of parish ministry, including pastoral care, worship leadership, faith formation, outreach, and more. Other ministry areas are added strategically over time and according to the Residents' interests and to topics pertinent to the life of the church and community.
  • Cultivating healthy work patterns, reflective practices, and leadership styles for parish ministry
    We believe that immersive experiences become meaningful through an ongoing practice of action reflection. Resident Ministers meet weekly with the Program Director to share observations, debrief experiences, and take stock of what they are learning. Much of this reflection focuses on transformational leadership, the development of the innate strengths each REsident possesses for ministry, the formation of personal and professional resilience, cultivating healthy styles of conflict management, and change management, and the nurture of vibrant churches, leaders, and ministry teams.
  • Reaching a deeper understanding of the internal dynamics growing from the life, motivations, faith, hopes, and frustrations of members of a large PCUSA congregation 
    Residents build rich relationships with members of the congregation and community. 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.
  • Discerning 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, our program supports pastors in uncovering the breadth and particularity of one's ongoing sense of call.


Resident Minister Qualifications

In terms of qualifications, Resident Ministers...

  • Are a candidate for ministry in good standing in the PCUSA or corresponding denomination (through the Formula of Agreement) and are eligible for ordination
  • Are graduates of an accredited theological seminary and have earned a Master of Divinity degree prior to beginning the residency program
  • Display excellent academic credentials and experience as well as an interest in and potential for parish ministry
  • Have completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), preferred, or an equivalent intensive group experience
  • Are curious about ministry, pastoral leadership, and the life of congregations
  • Seek to learn and develop the skills, practices, habits, and craft of ministry
  • Are committed to striving toward a balanced personal, family, and professional life
  • Have submitted an application, complete with a cover letter, transcript, and references, by January 31, 2023
About Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan

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 and greater Southeastern Michigan. Learn more about Ann Arbor via the local city guide.

Interested in Learning More?

Please contact Program Director Rev. Jay Sanderford to learn of upcoming opportunities to connect in person or virtually.


Program History and Impact

In 2021, First Presbyterian Church celebrated the Resident Ministry (RM) Program's 20th anniversary -- and over that time, it has become one of the most distinctive and enduring features of our church.


Begun in 2001 to foster the growth of new seminary graduates and stem the outflow of talented, young clergy from the parish ministry, our Residency Program has developed into a center for pastoral and leadership development for the Presbyterian Church (USA), multiplying the impact of our ministry far beyond Ann Arbor. Within First Pres, the experiential learning culture of the Residency has refreshed our community with a constant stream of gifted, energetic young pastors, new ideas for ministry, and a spirit of continuous growth and adventure in all forms of ministry.


In August 2021, we welcomed our latest cohort of residents: Megan Berry, Hannah Lundberg, and the late Matthew J. Warfield (1989-2021; in memoriam). They are a talented and diverse group that carries on the tradition of excellence in Presbyterian ministry and leadership development that began in 2001 with our initial cohort of residents, Revs. Sung Soo (Sam) Jun (now Pastor of Northern Lakes Community Church, Traverse City, MI), Robert Woodruff (Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church, Albuquerque, NM), and Nancy Benson-Nicol (Associate Pastor for Caring Ministries & Spiritual Formation, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL).


Many former residents have returned to preach or otherwise enrich the life of our church. Virtually all 30 former residents remain in active ministry - an affirmation of the original goal of our program. Residents shape the vital work of strong congregations in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Palm Beach, Edwardsville, IL, Bryan, TX, Wilmington, DE, Charlottesville, VA, and Charlotte, NC; or serve in educational roles at major seminaries and universities. The range and variety of their positions suggest the national impact of our program.


After 15 years of initial support from the Lilly Endowment, First Presbyterian assumed full financial responsibility for the program in 2018. Program expenses are now supported by income from a designated endowment raised by thoughtful gifts and memorials from church members and friends - a testimony to our church's commitment to this unique teaching ministry. As we look to the future, gifts and pledges to sustain and advance this ministry remain welcome and continue to be gratefully accepted.

More about Our Program Model

For colleagues in ministry interested in the goals, structure, and design of our program, we invite you to explore our 20th-anniversary report: Flourishing in Resident Ministry: An Overview from First Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan.