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Frequently Asked Questions

When and where will the in-person classes meet?

Classes will be held every Tuesday night from 6-7:45pm between January 24-April 18. There will not be class or video lectures the weeks of February 20-24 or April 3-7. Each week the class will either meet at Mt Zion Baptist Church (2019 Fisher St, Madison, WI 53713) or Christ Presbyterian Church (944 E Gorham St, Madison, WI 53703). A light dinner with a suggested $5 donation will be served at 5:30pm. There will also be an in-person 1/2 day retreat on Saturday, January 28 (9am-1pm) at Dottie’s Ranch in Oregon, WI.

Who is going to be participating in this class? 

The Madison Learning Community seeks to serve the broad diversity of the Christian Church in Dane County. As such, there will be a wide variety of Christian traditions, denominations, and theological commitments represented in this class. Among the first handful of committed students are those with links to: African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Free Church in America (EFCA), United Church of Christ (UCC), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Wesleyan Church, Independent Christian Church, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This is a great opportunity to connect, collaborate, and learn alongside fellow Christians in our area. The class will be taught with this rich diversity of of Christ's Body in mind, creating a supportive learning community with Christ at the center, without expecting students to agree theologically on everything.

What courses will you be offering in the future?

In Fall 2023 we plan to offer Introduction to the Old Testament, and in Spring 2024 we plan to offer Introduction to the New Testament. Other upcoming courses include: New Testament Exegesis (of one biblical book), Old Testament Exegesis (of one biblical book) and Leadership.

Can I earn a certificate by taking the courses offered in Madison?

Those who complete all six courses we will offer over a three-year cycle (either for credit or not) will earn a Certificate in Bible and Ministry.

I want to earn a seminary degree. How do I do that?

Courses taken for credit through Madison Learning Community can contribute toward one of the three degrees offered by the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS) and University of Dubuque: the Master of Divinity (75 credits), Master of Arts in Mission and Discipleship (40 credits), or Master of Arts in Ministry (30 credits). To do this, you would take UDTS courses online, in addition to in-person classes in Madison.  Click here to see sample degree plans:          If you're interested in a degree please reach out to our Seminary Admissions Director, Samuel Felderman:

I'm working on a degree at another seminary. Can these courses count toward that?

Courses taken for credit should be transferable into degree programs at other accredited seminaries--either as meeting requirements or as elective credits. Please consult with your academic advisor at your school.

When will this preaching class be offered again?

Because MLC will be offering 6 courses (one at a time during Fall & Spring semesters), each course will likely be offered every 3 years. The earliest that a preaching class will be offered again is Spring 2026.


I’m more interested in the other courses MLC will offer. Can I enroll in those without taking this one?

Absolutely! We look forward to connecting with you in future semesters. You are free to pick and choose which classes are most beneficial to you and enroll in those you are most interested in. Let Lief know to keep you in the loop about what courses are coming up (

What is the difference between taking the class for credit vs. enrichment/not-for-credit?

Taking the class for credit allows you to use this class towards a graduate seminary degree at University of Dubuque Theological seminary or to transfer the credit to another school. Taking the class for enrichment is a great option for those who already have a degree or are not looking to pursue a seminary degree. There is a difference in cost for those pursuing credit ($817 for your first 3 graduate credits with MLC) vs. those taking for enrichment/continuing education ($375 program fee).  There is also a difference in the amount of work required. Whether you are taking the course for credit or not, you will attend all class sessions and complete all expected reading and assignments.

Are scholarships available?

We are currently inviting churches and individuals to contribute toward scholarships for students of color. The first course for credit taken in Madison is 50% off the normal cost for 3 graduate credits ($817 vs. $1634). Please talk to Lief Erickson ( if you are requesting a scholarship. Scholarships will be provided to eligible students in the order that they complete the sign-up form found on this website. If you or your church would like to provide scholarship funds for local students of color to take Madison Learning Community courses, please contact Dr. Christopher James (

Does accreditation really matter?

As an initiative of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, the for-credit classes are part of our programs accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (the gold-standard in seminary accreditation). Accreditation matters for a few reasons. If you're a part of many denominations, a degree from an ATS accredited school is required for ordination. While many non-accredited schools are providing valuable classes, accreditation ensures that courses, faculty and schools are providing quality learning environments, and makes it possible to transfer credits into programs at other accredited institutions.

I've read that if I take the class "for credit" it is 50% off, what does that mean?

For those taking the class for-credit, your first course with the Madison Learning Community will be 50% off the standard UDTS per-credit tuition rate (so, $817 rather than $1634).

What does hybrid-class format mean?

Each week, students will access video lectures online asynchronously (whenever and wherever works best for them) as well as attend an in-person class gathering on Tuesday nights. The in-person gathering will offer students time to engage with the professors and each other.


How will I access the course website and video lectures?

Video lectures will be available online asynchronously (on-demand). Once you have signed up for the course, you will be provided log-in credentials for the seminary's Moodle page (


Is this class only for pastors?

Not at all. While we anticipate pastors will make up some of student mix, we expect that there will be many others as well: those considering vocational ministry as a career, volunteers and lay leaders who are seeking opportunities to grow and learn, and ministry leaders of all kinds who communicate in many different ways.


Should I take this class if I don’t preach regularly?

While this is a preaching course that will focus primarily on how to prepare and deliver sermons, it will provide valuable equipping for others who speak and teach in a variety of ministry settings. In fact, the principles from this class will be transferable to those creating biblical content and curriculum, leading small groups, and communicating the Word of God in many contexts.

What if I have to miss a class session?

We expect regular attendance for all video lectures and in-person meetings. With that said, we understand that life happens and you may have to miss 1-2 meetings due to unforeseen or otherwise planned commitments. Please communicate any foreseen absences with Lief Erickson as soon as you know of them.

What kind of school is University of Dubuque Theological Seminary?

UDTS was founded in 1852 to equip evangelists and pastors to reach the German immigrants flooding into the Midwest. To this day, UDTS is committed to forming faithful Christian leaders for ministry and mission. As a theological seminary affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) it serves students of various Christian traditions and denominations regionally and across the country through its online degree programs, started in 2007. Its faculty members have links to several denominations but share a commitment to the historic Christian faith expressed in the early ecumenical creeds and a love for Christ's church.

How did Madison Learning Community get started?

In 2018, Rev. Dr. Christopher James began bringing students from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary to Madison as part of a class, and also began doing research on the churches of Dane County. In the following years, he and local partners received grants from the Lilly Endowment that made possible two initiatives supporting thriving among Madison leaders and churches, Missio Madison and Awaken Dane, respectively. In 2021, after reflecting on how to better serve the Greater Madison area, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary received a Lilly Endowment grant to support the formation of Madison Learning Community as a way of making theological education more accessible.

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