Our Story Begins in 1994
During the Spring of 1994, the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware (ABCOPAD) and the Pittsburgh Baptist Association (PBA) joined together to establish the American Baptist Lay Pastoral Institute of Western Pennsylvania (later known as the Church Leadership Institute.) The desire was to offer an educational program for people: (1) seeking to become certified lay ministers and for people (2) seeking classroom opportunities for personal enrichment of their Christian faith. Based on a program used in 1988-1990 by the Ten Mile and Monongahela Associations (specifically at the First Baptist Church of Waynesburg), this Institute’s new collaborative program began on February 5, 1994, with three different locations (Wesleyville, Monroeville, and Waynesburg). In the Spring of 1996, twenty-nine persons graduated from the three combined sites. Twenty-six graduates received a Certificate in Lay Pastoral Ministry.
In later years, CLI expanded to include programs based in Harrisburg and Northeastern Pennsylvania, and these programs increased the number of graduates statewide. In 2007, CLI expanded to include the Youth Ministry (YM) track, which, while training students in the practice of Youth Ministry, also began online instruction, which brought in students from as far away as Michigan.
In the fall of 2012, representatives from all three CLI programs met with ABCOPAD Regional Staff to consider consolidating our administrative structure. From these sessions, the name “The Academy of Christian Training and Service” (ACTS) was born. In order to help facilitate this growth, the ACTS program made several innovations. For instance, the program shifted to an exclusively online model of ministry for the delivery of all its classes. Students still met together on Saturday mornings but did so virtually through the use of online video chat programs.
In 2022, the leadership team of ACTS began to feel the calling to shift our ministry again, reformatting our class schedules and delivering methods to better fit the shifting dynamics of the lives of those called into ministry. We look forward to the continued ministry of this program and are excited that you have come to this very website to learn more about our program.
By joining the ACTS program, you’ll join a rich history of a program that has trained over 375 graduates, with well over 60% of those graduates serving in church ministry.