Train for Ministry


  • The Five-Year Community Based Ministry Program leads to a Diploma in Indigenous Ministry.  The Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre has Testamur of the UCC: People completing the Five-Year Program can be Ordained or Commissioned to Diaconal Ministry.
  • A Three-Year Program leads to recognition as a Designated Lay Minister.
  • The Community Based Model balances field work in the community with Two-week Learning Circles four times a year at the Centre.
  • Learning Circle Course may be taken by lay people and as continuing education for clergy.
  • Through partnerships with other Universities, graduates may continue studies for a Bachelor of Arts.
  • Some qualified students may also pursue a Master of Divinity through our partnership with Vancouver School of Theology’s Indigenous Studies Program while they are taking our ministry training program.

Read more about:


The Community Based Model for Ministry Preparation

The Community-Based Model for Aboriginal Ministry Training is authorized by the United Church of Canada.  The education model was developed by an Aboriginal Committee.  It is dedicated to the spiritual wholeness of Aboriginal people, with a commitment to upholding both Aboriginal Traditional and Christian values and teachings, and to increasing cross-cultural understanding.

In the Community-Based model, preparation for ministry is a balance of course work and practical ministry.  Learning and integration takes place (A) in the Learning Circles (four times a year), when the students gather together to study, with Centre staff, resource leaders, and an Elder, and (B) the ministry field placements, where they work and reflect with elders, community leaders and their Vision Keeper.

The Program is normally five years long for preparation for Order of Ministry (both ordained and diaconal), and three years for those who wish to train as a Designated Lay Minister.  Order of Ministry (diaconal and ordained) student require a minimum of 45 course credits, and a minimum of at least half time field placement ministry in each of the five years.  Designated Lay Ministry students require 27 course credits and a minimum of at least half time field placement ministry in each of three years.

Learning Circles:  Each week is four and one-half days long, with an average of 30 hours class time.  Additional time is spent in reflection before and after classes with the Vision Keeper, writing journal reflections and other assignments.  Successful participation in one week-long Learning circle is one Credit.  Students in the Order of Ministry (Ordained, Diaconal) require a minimum of 45 credits over five years to complete.  Students in the three-year program for Designated Lay Ministry require a minimum of 27 credits over 3 years.

Field Placements:  Field placements may occur in a variety of settings, including paid accountable ministry or employment community work such education, social work, counseling, health care.  Field placements can also be volunteer positions.  Whether paid or volunteer, field work will include active participation in a congregation.  Students attend two-week Learning Circles four times per year, with one additional week being active participation in Grand Council and/or Regional meetings.   For completion, students must have successful participation in paid or volunteer work equivalent to half time (20 hours per week) in each of the five years (Ordained, diaconal) or three years (Lay Designated Ministry).

Vision Keepers:  The action-reflection education model allows students to gain practical experience in their field placement, receive guidance and support from elders and others in the community, as well is from a Vision Keeper (a term equivalent to “education supervisor” but more consistent with Aboriginal ways of offering direction and wisdom), and reflect on what they learn in the courses and field placement.  The Learning Circles are designed to follow the traditional Aboriginal ways of learning, with wisdom and insight being shared by all participants – the students, resources leaders, and an elder.

Teaching and Learning:  Within the Centre’s praxis (action-reflection) model of learning, all members of the circle are both learners and teachers.  The art and skill of listening is fostered along with that of speaking.

Completion:  On completion, graduates receive a Diploma in Aboriginal Ministry.

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*Note that the 43rd General Council, of the United Church of Canada, in July 2018 approved a new process for entering ministry called Candidacy Pathway, which began being implemented in January 2019

The First Steps:

If you are interested in the Ministry Program, you need approval from your home congregation. Talk to your Elders and ask for an interview with them.  Prepare a written or oral statement (can be dictated/recorded) describing your life experience, particularly what has led to you considering ministry leadership preparation.  This statement will be discussed with the Elders/Church Council or Board before approval is given by them.  If your home congregation decides to bless and support you and approve your participation in the program, a letter to this effect should be sent to the Candidacy and to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre along with the statement you prepared.

Individuals from other denominations should follow the requirements of that church.

Talk to the staff at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre about your interest.  They can provide additional information.

If you have Treaty Status, talk to the Education Authority about funding.

To register in the Program, you will need:

  1. Completed Registration Form.
  2. Your personal statement.
  3. A letter of support from the Elders or Board of your congregation, a copy of which they will send to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre.
  4. A meeting with the Candidacy Board, with their approval to begin studies.
  5. An interview with staff of the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre.
  6. An application to your Band Education Authority for funding* (if you have Treaty Status).

*Note: If Education Authority funding is not available, there may be bursaries through the United Church or the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre.

The Student Program Committee will assess your application.  Once the steps for Admission are in place, you may be ready to begin the Program.  Acceptance in the Program is however dependent on approval by the Student Program Committee, on funding availability, and on space in the Learning Circles.

Once accepted, you must have a current (ie within the last six months) Police Record Check, Vulnerable Sector, Level 2, which must be shown to Centre staff and to the Candidacy Board.  A letter from your congregation requesting that you have a Police Record Check is usually required.  A sample letter is available through the Candidacy Board.

Once accepted in the Program, Centre Staff and the Candidacy Board will work with you to develop a suitable field placement for you.  They will also recommend someone to be your Vision Keeper.


Admission Priorities

The Program is offered for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit persons who want to be educated for paid accountable leadership in the church (ordained, diaconal, designated lay ministry).

While the Centre is sponsored by The United Church of Canada, programs are ecumenical. Students from the United, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Mennonite denominations have participated.

Students from other United Church Theological Schools may attend individual Learning Circles as part of their theological training.

Non-Aboriginal people are eligible to enroll in the diploma program if they can demonstrate that they have had a long and deep relationship with a First Nation, Métis or Inuit community, and come with the recommendation of a First Nation, Métis or Inuit community.


Admission Requirements

For United Church students admission to the Program for United Church students requires:

  • Membership and active involvement in a congregation for at least two years for Order of Ministry, and five years for Designated Lay Ministry prior to registration.
  • A letter of support from their congregation recommending them as students for ministry.
  • An interview with the Candidacy Board, recommending them to the Centre.

Admission for students from other denominations or faith traditions must fulfill the guidelines of their sponsoring body.

In addition, all students will demonstrate:

    • Personal maturity arising from work experience, community involvement, and spiritual development
    • Grade 12 or equivalent and willingness to upgrade if necessary.  (Equivalency is evaluated on an individual basis, taking into account the student’s maturity, facility with their language and culture, and with the traditional ways of the community where they will be called to minister)
    • A beginning understanding of the commitment of the call to ministry.


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The cost for the Ministry Program includes tuition, accommodation and meals.  Travel will depend on where each student lives.

Tuition and Accommodations for 2018-2019:

One Learning Circle

2-Weeks Learning Circles

Annual cost of 4 Learning Circles

Ninth Week



Tuition, Accommodation & Meals$890$1780$7120$890
Supervision (quarterly)$1725$6910


Total Annual Cost for full time student = $15030 plus travel for learning circles and meetings with Council on Learning


Road:  The Centre is accessible by road, Highway 44, 4 km east of Beausejour.

Air:  Beausejour is about 1 hour from Winnipeg International Airport and Perimeter.  It is about 30 minutes from St Andrew’s Airport, Lockport.

Train:  VIA Rail has scheduled trains stopping at Winnipeg three times per week.

People arriving by air or train should contact the Centre for arrangements for pick up.


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