The Rev. David T. Gortner, Ph.D.

Professor David Timothy Gortner has been with the VTS faculty since 2008, as Director of the Doctor of Ministry programs, and Professor of Evangelism and Congregational Leadership. 

Both a psychologist and a priest, David completed his Ph.D. in psychology and human development at The University of Chicago in Illinois, where he focused on early adult development and the formation of personal theologies. He earned an M.Div. with a focus in theology from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Illinois, an M.A. in psychology from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and a B.A. from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Prior to coming to VTS, David served on the faculties of Church Divinity School of the Pacific and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, teaching pastoral and practical theology, human development, and organizational leadership. He also taught psychology courses at Loyola University, National-Louis University, and College of DuPage in Illinois.

For twenty years, David has served in pastoral and musical capacities in congregations, hospitals, hospice, and university settings in Illinois and North Carolina.  While completing his PhD, David served as associate for young adult and family ministry at St. Mark's in Evanston, worked with the Fund for Theological Education on a nationwide initiative to help congregations recruit young people for priestly vocation, and was a co-founding pastor of Church of Christ the Reconciler in Chicago. He also worked in therapeutic settings of mental and rehabilitation hospitals and treatment centers in Illinois, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.

David wrote Transforming Evangelism (Church Publishing, 2008), which has been used widely by congregations and diocese across the Episcopal Church and other denominations. He wrote Varieties of Personal Theology:  Charting the Beliefs and Values of American Young Adults (Ashgate, 2013), a seminal study of how young adults construct theological views of the world and life.  He authored Around One Table (CREDO and College for Bishops, 2009), an online report on a nationwide study of Episcopal identity.  He co-produced A Feast in the Desert, a documentary of young adult ministry approaches.

David is currently completing books on clergy leadership effectiveness and on young adult religious engagement, as well as a children's book retelling the story of creation.  He has led conferences and seminars on these topics across the U.S. and Canada. David continues to work with churches, schools, and judicatories on evangelism, congregational development, community-building, and young adult ministry, both within and beyond the Episcopal Church.

David's wife, Heather VanDeventer, serves as Interim Associate Rector for Evangelism and Faith Formation at Christ Church in Alexandria. David and Heather have two young daughters.
"Around One Table" - Research Project

Transforming Evangelism
 (.wmp) March 19, 2009
Evangelism Series at the Washington National Cathedral

“Narratives and Social Networks: Tools for Reading Congregational Dynamics.” Instructor, Summer Collegium, Virginia Theological Seminary (2009).

“Catching the Errors Before They Compound: Reflection-in-Action to Transform Organizations.” Instructor, College for Bishops (2009).

“Leaven in the Dough, Scatterers of the Seed.” Plenary address, Diocesan Leadership Day, Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina (2009).

“Using Transforming Evangelism in Your Life and Congregation.” Plenary sessions, Clergy Conference, Diocese of Montana (2009).

“Practicing Public Dialogue on Matters of the Heart.” Invited address, series on evangelism, Washington National Cathedral (2009).

Gortner, D. T. (2008, December). “The Joys and Perils and Mixed Methodology in Religious Research.” Invited address, Psychology Department, Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Gortner, D. T. (2007, November). “Beyond Freud and Jung: Psychologies and Theologies of Human Development.” Paper session presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, California.

“Selecting and Training for Effective Christian Leadership.” Conference leader, Commission on Ministry, Diocese of Oregon (2006).

“Bridging the Rift: Young Adults and Religion.” Plenary address, National Campus Ministry Association, Portland, OR (2006).

Gortner, D. T. (2005, November). Episcopalians on the trail of social capital: A bird’s eye view of congregations in context. Presented at Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Annual Meeting, Rochester, New York.

“The De-Institutionalizing Journey of the Spirit.” Plenary address: Trinity Consultation on Campus & Young Adult Ministry, CT (2005).

“What Sets Effective Ministers Apart?” Plenary by Dreibelbis & Gortner: Healthy Congregations Conference, TN (2002).

“Varieties of Young Adult Religious Experience.” Plenary: Lutheran Campus Ministry Conference, Baltimore, MD (2001).