Church Relations

Shepherds Theological Seminary exists to equip servant leaders for life and ministry. The seminary affirms the primary role of the local church in training its leaders. The Apostle Paul describes the church as the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). The church’s responsibility is highlighted by Brian Croft in his volume Test, Train, Affirm and Send into Ministry:

It is the local church that God has appointed to be the agent to test, train, affirm, and send those who are called. Because of this truth, the local church must embrace this enormous responsibility. This call has been the responsibility of the church from the beginning, as we see the church in Antioch embrace it (Croft, Test, Train, Affirm, and Send into Ministry. Leominster: Day One Publications, 33).

After crediting Bible colleges, seminaries, mission agencies, parachurch ministries, and individual Christians with the significant contributions they have made, Croft interjected: “The problem, however, is that none of these options has been biblically commissioned by God to take the full and ultimate responsibility for testing, training, affirming, and sending those who are called to be pastors and missionaries” (Croft, 33).

Since most local churches cannot provide the faculty and extensive resources needed, the seminary comes alongside as a missionary of the church to provide scholarly theological training to the future leaders of the church.

Shepherds Seminary is committed to engaging churches and pastors by soliciting their fellowship, their input, their spiritual and material support, while in turn, pledging to honor and support churches which have the primary role of equipping their future leaders.

Components of Church Relations at Shepherds

The following components have been implemented to fulfill the seminary’s commitment to local churches and pastors:

  • 360° A Circle of Shepherds – Quarterly Pastors Fellowship
  • STS Placement Service
  • STS Library
  • Colloquia addressing major theological and practical ministry issues
  • Student Internships and Apprenticeships in area churches
  • Pulpit supply and Conference Ministry of Faculty and Staff
  • Guest lecturers and Chapel speakers
  • Military Chaplaincy Program
  • Counseling Training and NANC Certification
  • Israel Initiative and faculty-guided tours of the Holy Land
  • Advanced Placement Master of Divinity
  • Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry programs
  • STS Board
  • Regional Pastors Luncheons
  • Publications of STS President Stephen Davey

360: A Circle of Shepherds

The vision for an outreach to pastors and churches was born in the heart of STS President and Founder Dr. Stephen Davey. This vibrant fellowship, which meets quarterly on the STS campus, has grown to more than fifty members. Pastors from North Carolina and Virginia gather for fellowship, prayer, edification, and encouragement in ministry. Pastors panels on various subjects such as counseling, church administration, and expository preaching have elicited very positive responses.

For more information on 360: A Circle of Shepherds, please see this page.

Assistance and benefits to pastors include:

  • Fellowship among evangelical pastors
  • Cooperation in church-planting initiatives & missions
  • Tuition-free seminary courses for pastors
  • Pulpit supply for 360° churches
  • Placement aid for 360° churches
  • Relevant ministry materials to pastors and churches
  • Access to the STS Library

STS Placement Services

Shepherds Seminary provides placement assistance to STS seminary students, alumni, pastors in the 360 Circle of Shepherds, and churches and other ministries seeking qualified candidates. Applications for placement should be submitted on the forms provided in the STS Placement Handbook, which can be accessed on the seminary website ( under the “Alumni and Friends” tab. There are no charges or fees for this service.

In the Placement Handbook there are tips for résumé writing and other valuable resources on ministry placement. Placement consultation is offered through the Director of Placement. Local churches and ministry candidates are encouraged to contact the Placement Office (919-573-1568) when seeking to fill ministry staff positions.

The Paul Jackson Theological Library

The Paul Jackson Library serves as the resource, reference and research arm of the seminary. The library exists to support the academic and scholarly programs of the seminary with holdings that reflect depth, excellence, and diversity to serve development of knowledge and to stimulate discernment in thought. While these holdings will by necessity encompass a wide spectrum of human knowledge and opinion, it is acknowledged that all such wisdom must be in submission to God’s Word. Jackson Library currently has 30,000 volumes cataloged. It has affiliation with the Association of Theological Libraries.

The seminary’s highly qualified librarian Dr. Will Coberly gives expert guidance to those doing theological research. Pastors are encouraged to utilize the treasure of holdings and the research guidance of the STS librarian.


The fall and spring colloquia are dynamic forums in which to address relevant doctrinal, theological, and practical issues. The nature of the topic chosen for each colloquium demands that the featured speaker be selected for his expertise and ability to speak authoritatively on subjects that are pertinent to students and ministry leaders. Lectures are followed by question and answer sessions. Students, faculty, alumni, area pastors, and the public are invited to attend.
Previous Speakers Include:

  • Dr. David Allen Black – Biblical Languages
  • Dr. Craig Blaising – Dispensationalism
  • Dr. Walter Kaiser – Old Testament Theology
  • Dr. Doug Petrovich – Biblical Archaeology
  • Dr. Michael Vlach – Supercessionism

Student Internships and Apprenticeships

All students except the Master of Arts students majoring in Biblical Literature are required to gain practical experience in their chosen vocational pursuit through the field education program.* Master of Arts students must complete an internship and Master of Divinity students an apprenticeship. Internships and apprenticeships must be approved by the Director of Mentoring and are carried out in practical ministry settings. Leaders from the following ministries usually qualify as mentors but must be approved by the Director of Mentoring:

  • Colonial Baptist Church, Cary, NC
  • Experienced Pastors in the 360° Circle of Shepherds
  • The New England Center for Expository Preaching
  • Baptist Mid-Missions in Spain and England

Students may choose others to serve as mentors if they meet the stated standards of the seminary and complete the requisite applications. Once approved, the mentor must submit the Agreement to Mentor in keeping with the student’s Internship or Apprenticeship proposal. Complete information with all necessary forms can be found here.

Pulpit Supply and Conference Speakers

Members of the STS faculty and staff are experienced men in ministry and are delighted to serve churches in the region of the seminary as guest speakers or conference speakers. You are encouraged to review the faculty section of the STS website ( and to invite any of the following resident faculty and staff members as a guest speaker:

  • William Barber, Professor of Practical Theology
  • Doug Bookman, Professor of New Testament
  • David Burggraff, Professor of Theology
  • Will Coberly, Professor of Bible Exposition
  • Randall McKinion, Professor of Old Testament
  • Larry Pettegrew, Professor of Theology
  • Al Potter, Vice-President of Advancement
  • Tom Zempel, Professor of Biblical Counseling
  • Stephen Davey, President (available during the summer)

Guest Lecturers and Chapel Speakers

Monday Chapel Service guest speakers include pastors, faculty members, and ministry leaders, who challenge our students with devotional messages and exhort them to godliness and faithfulness. Area pastors may be invited as guest lecturers in STS classes.

Military Chaplaincy Program

STS is committed to equipping and enabling students whom God has called to this strategic field of ministry. The basic requirement for acceptance into the chaplaincy is a full pastoral ministry degree from an accredited seminary. The Master of Divinity program includes classroom lectures and extra-classroom experiences designed to prepare the student to deal with the situations almost certain to arise in the course of that service. Every chaplain in military service must be accepted by an endorsing agency which has standing with the several branches of the Armed Forces. STS works closely with Associated Gospel Churches as an endorsing agency.

Counseling and NANC Certification

With the many complex spiritual and legal issues in today’s culture and churches, competent counseling through the local church is essential. Whether one is pursuing the Master of Arts, Master of Divinity or Associate of Arts degrees with a major or concentration in biblical counseling or simply taking counseling electives, STS offers a full complement of counseling studies. The seminary’s Counseling Department cooperates with the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and with Care Ministries of Colonial Baptist Church. All of the requisites for NANC certification can be obtained through Shepherds Seminary.

Dr. Tom Zempel serves in the Church Care Ministry and as professor of Biblical Counseling at STS. The staff is delighted to serve pastors and churches in the vital area of biblical counseling. Mentoring through NANC exams and supervision through the required counseling hours for certification are made available to pastors and their church members by Dr. Zempel.

Israel Initiative and Faculty-Guided Tours of the Holy Land

Dr. Doug Bookman, Professor of New Testament at STS, is highly regarded for his expertise in Holy Land Studies and for conducting numerous tours to Israel. He has led in establishing “The Israel Initiative,” which is the STS program that provides in-depth studies of the Holy Land and a guided lecture series in Israel. Pastors and laymen are welcome to join these tours. Those pastors who have traveled the Holy Land with Dr. Bookman have voiced very high commendations of their experience.

Advanced Placement Master Of Divinity

There is good news for pastors who received their bachelor’s degree from an accredited Christian liberal arts college or Bible college of similar faith and practice within the past five years, but who did not pursue the Master of Divinity. They will be excited to know that STS is working towards implementation of the Advanced Placement Master of Divinity. This innovative program seeks to minimize the overlap between undergraduate courses and the seminary curriculum and enables the student to focus more on areas of the curriculum in which he is most interested. Those who qualify will be credited up to 16 credit hours toward the 94 hour requirement of the M.Div.

Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry Degrees

The emphasis on lifelong learning is one of the hallmarks of professional excellence. Pastors who aspire to deepen their knowledge of theology and to improve their professional skills may take advantage of these advanced-degree offerings which are in the strategic plan of Shepherds Seminary. The Th.M. and D.Min. programs will soon be in place. Those interested should contact Dr. Larry Pettegrew, Executive Vice-President and Dean of STS.

STS Board

The administrative authority for the operation of the seminary is the Board of Directors. Our outstanding board includes attorneys, a corporate executive, a real estate developer, a certified public accountant and two pastors. Having pastors on the STS Board attests to our recognition of the importance of pastoral input in the theological education process.

Regional Pastor’s Luncheons

In North Carolina and Virginia pastors luncheons are held to acquaint pastors with the ministry of Shepherds Seminary. Pastors who are affiliated with the 360 Circle of Shepherds anchor these meetings inviting fellow pastors and prospective students. These luncheons have engendered warm relations and fellowship and serve as a testament to the fact that we value pastors and desire their input and ministry engagement.