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The Center for Lifelong Learning and Leadership is an advocate and resource for the needs of congregations and communities. As a product of the mission of Virginia Union University’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, the Center provides classroom opportunities for Christian learners and leaders who are committed to excellence in service. By creating spaces for faith formation and vocational development through leadership education, the Center serves as a partner for nurturing healthy and sustainable leaders and leadership practices.

The Center for Life Long Learning and Leadership host short term events and conferences as well as long term programs of study. These programs seek to equip leaders with a multitude of skills, ranging from a basic and in-depth study of the Bible as foundational to ministry to a more skills-oriented study around subjects or some area pertinent to quality leadership.  STVU also has an affiliate relationship with several para-church groups that have included in their statement of mission and vision the importance of providing for the intellectual and faith growth of organization members/agency members.  STVU has formed alliances with several religious and para-church organizations for the planning and development of continuing education experiences.  These include: The Baptist General Convention of Virginia; The International Association of Ministers’ Wives and Ministers’ Widows, Inc.; The Mount Sinai Holy Church of America; the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care; and The Congress of National Black Churches, Inc.  Unique to the program of Continuing Education is the fact that full-time faculty make themselves available to all local continuing education providers as personal schedules and calendars permit.  This feature creates authenticity and greater value for the continuing education courses of study and lends a greater measure of self-esteem to persons enrolled as students in the long- term continuing education classes and participating in short-term events.

The Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is used as the criteria of measurement to validate performance in all continuing education events.  Each year more than five thousand persons are engaged in these events.  Grants from the Lilly Endowment enable the creation of the Statewide program of leadership education, known as the Evans-Smith Leadership Training Institute, and the expansion of that program to include a national centers component.  The eight national centers are staffed by local directors and offer theological and practical education courses, similar to the Evans-Smith Institute.

Evans-Smith Leadership Training Insititute

The Evans-Smith Leadership Training Institute was established in 1976 in an attempt to meet the needs of lay church leaders.  Evans-Smith is a non-credit, non-degree program.  After completion of the twelve courses required for the first-level certificate, persons may continue in the program at an advanced level and concentrate in one of four areas of ministry by completing an additional five courses.  Evans-Smith is currently operating at thirteen sites across the State.  Jointly sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, the program is operated by local site coordinators and staffs certified by the faculty of the STVU.  A certification exercise is held on the campus in May of each year at which time an average of seventy-five certificates, including both levels, may be presented to persons, proudly clad in academic regalia and demonstrating a keen sense of self-fulfillment.  Graduates of the Evans-Smith Institute are visible in churches all across Virginia and are a credit to their own tenacious determination to be equipped for ministry as well as to the seminary administration and faculty whose vision and leadership brought the program to fruition. 

Church Leadership Conference

The Center for Life Long Learning and Leadership events held on campus annually offer short-term periods of study combined with worship experiences.   These events include the Annual John M. Ellison – Miles Jerome Jones Convocation and the Center for African American Pentecostalism and Leadership Development Convocation, which invites attendees to participate in events of learning designed to improve ministry leadership capabilities.  A one-day Church Leadership Conference draws over twelve hundred persons (lay and clergy) each March for study in all facets of ministry in the church and world.   Persons participate in one of approximately twenty-five classes.

Contact Information

Virginia Union University
Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology
The Center for Lifelong Learning and Leadership
1500 North Lombardy Street
Richmond, VA 23220
​Telephone: 804-354-5923 
Fax:  804-342-3911 

Advisory Council

Dr. Jessica Young Brown, The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, VUU

Reverend Tracey Holley, First Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Dumfries, VA

Ms. Sheryl Blowe McDowney, Baptist General Convention of Virginia, Richmond, VA

Dr. C. Diane Mosby, Anointed New Life Baptist Church, Henrico, VA

Reverend Tyrone Nelson, Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Richmond, VA

Ms. Juana Thompson, St. Peter Baptist Church, Glen Allen, VA

Dr. E. Richard Swan, Jerusalem Baptist Church, Doswell, VA