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.


Last year First Presbyterian Church celebrated the Resident Ministry (RM) Program’s 20th anniversary – and 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 11th cohort of residents (2021): Megan Berry, Hannah Lundberg and Matthew J. Warfield (in memorium). They are a talented and diverse group which carries on the tradition of excellence in Presbyterian ministry and leadership development begun in 2001 with our initial cohort of residents, Revs. Sung Soo (Sam) Jun (now Pastor of Northern Lakes Community Church, Traverse City), Robert Woodruff (Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church, Albuquerque, NM), and Nancy Benson-Nicole (Development Officer, Austin Theological Seminary).  Click Here to find our more about our current Resident Ministers.

Many former residents have returned to preach or otherwise enrich the life of our church.  Beyond Ann Arbor, First Pres residents lead major congregations throughout the country: Rev. Jenny McDevitt in Columbia, SC; Rev. Sara Wiles at Blacksburg, VA; and Rev. Matt Nickel in Detroit, MI. Rev. Mark Brainerd and Rev. Megan Gage-Finn serve as executive pastors or pastors for congregational care at some of the most prominent churches in our denomination. 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.

The Lilly Endowment played a pivotal role in founding our Resident Ministry Program, providing major grant funding for the first 15 years through its Transition in Ministry program. In 2018, First Pres made the RM Program fully our own and assumed full financial responsibility for the ministry. 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. At end of the first quarter of 2021, the Resident Ministry Endowment stood at $5.05 million, surpassing the original campaign goal. As we look to the future, gifts and pledges to sustain and advance this ministry remain welcome and continue to be gratefully accepted.

To download the introductory brochure, click on the image below:

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 1700 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.

Flourishing in Resident Ministry

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.