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Faculty and Vice Presidents
Affiliated and Emeriti Faculty

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

Professor David Timothy Gortner is the Associate Dean of Church and Community Engagement and Professor of Evangelism and Congregational Leadership. He has been with the VTS faculty since 2008.

A psychologist and priest, David has benefited from a rich educational background:
  • Ph.D., Psychology and Human Development, The University of Chicago
  • M.Div., focus in theology, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary
  • M.A., Psychology, Wake Forest University
  • B.A., Psychology, Wheaton College.
This intellectual "dual citizenship" fits well with David's perspective on ministry in today's world.  David grew up in and served in multiple Christian traditions -- Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Evangelical Mennonite, United Bretheren, Roman Catholic, and Episcopal -- and this gives David a helpful "insider-outsider" view and an ecumenical spirit that fits well with the aims of the D.Min. program at VTS. 

David served previously 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.

Since high school, David has served in congregations, hospitals, hospice, and university settings in Indiana, Illinois and North Carolina, as musician, youth ministry, associate young adult and young family ministries, chaplain, and church planter.  He has provided instruction and consultation at regional and national conferences and gatherings across the U.S. and Canada in conflict engagement, evangelism, musical and liturgical ministry development, lay leadership development, clergy leadership development, young adult ministry, and effective community engagement.  David has also worked in therapeutic settings of mental and rehabilitation hospitals and community treatment centers in Illinois, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, and is also a trained community organizer.

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.  He directed the Clergy into Action study, and with his research team launched the Into-Action website (http://into-action.net), offering research and resources to help strengthen preparation of seminarians and new clergy for more effective Christian leadership.

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.  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).
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