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San Francisco Theological Seminary Names Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies after National Search

San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Rev. Dr. Virstan Choy as director of Advanced Pastoral Studies.

Choy returns to SFTS after 12 years. He previously served as director of Field Education and Integrative Studies from 1992-2000.

Choy brings nearly four decades of ministry experience to SFTS. He most recently served at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where he wore many hats during his seven-year stint. He was interim director of the Center for Asian American Ministries and was adjunct faculty in McCormick’s Doctor of Ministry and Executive Leadership Certificate programs.

Choy also has extensive experience serving in key leadership roles throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including associate executive presbyter for the Presbytery of San Jose and general presbyter of the Presbytery of San Francisco. He designed the General Assembly Office of Vocation's Pastoral Residency Program and has served as a consultant to numerous denominational committees and offices. His service has also included work with the National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches and the Order of St. Sulpice in the Roman Catholic Church.

Among Choy’s primary responsibilities at SFTS will be overseeing the Doctor of Ministry program.

“The nurturing of leaders has always been a key part of what I do,” Choy said. “The opportunity to do this type of nurturing in the SFTS Advanced Pastoral Studies Program is very exciting.”

Choy credits his success in responding to his call to ministry to the many people who have crossed his path. His openness to learning from those around him actually began when Choy was a 26-year-old who had just landed his first call as pastor at Chinese Community Church in Sacramento, Calif.

“It’s not what I’ve done – it’s what I’ve learned from the people I serve,” Choy said. “I see sharing what I’ve learned at one ministry with my next ministry as part of my calling. I do that with gratitude.”

Rev. Dr. Jim McDonald, president of SFTS, is thrilled to welcome Choy back to the SFTS community. “We are blessed to have Virstan as our director of Advanced Pastoral Studies,” McDonald said. “His stellar credentials, familiarity with the SFTS community and deep love for the ministry will help us continue to achieve our mission of preparing faith leaders by helping to shape them spiritually and intellectually, and by expanding their vision of Christian ministry in today’s ever-changing world.”

Choy follows Rev. Dr. Scott Sullender, who has served as the program’s interim director since 2010 and helped maintain its renowned and international reputation. Choy joins the SFTS staff on July 1.

“I’m conscious of the legacy and the stewardship of my predecessors,” Choy said. “I hope to be alert to what else may be helpful in the 21st century.”

An active SFTS alumnus, Choy received his Doctor of Ministry degree from the seminary in 1995. His dissertation was “Toward a New Paradigm for Conflict Management in Asian American Congregations: A Critique of Current Alban Institute Approaches and a Proposal for an Alternative Posture for Chinese- and Japanese-American Congregations in California.” He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Berkeley, majoring in psychology.

For more than 50 years, the SFTS Advanced Pastoral Studies Program has been providing dynamic scholarship to enrich and expand the quality of a variety of ministries. Areas of emphasis in the Doctor of Ministry program include Multidisciplinary, Pastoral Care and Counseling, Spiritual Direction, Pastor as Spiritual Leader and Urban Ministry/Black Church Studies.

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