Columbia Theological Seminary’s S3 Project Offers Grants to Pastors for Sustaining Excellence in Ministry
Decatur, GA. – Applications are due April 23 for participation in Columbia Theological Seminary’s S3 Project. Funded with a $1.3 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, the project offers opportunities for pastors of all denominations, working in small groups, to develop models for sustaining excellence in the practice of ministry. For the two-year program, participants receive approximately $1,000 each per year to fund self-directed group work that focuses on aspects of Sabbath, study, and service. Each participant also receives up to $300 in need-based aid for travel to the program orientation and subsequent annual meetings, which are held each August.
Last year, Graham Robinson of Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, CT was accepted to the S3 project along with his group, “Feast of Faith”. The group, who met while students at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ, will travel to Rome this year to study the Waldensian church, the oldest Reformed Protestant denomination in the world. Other group members include pastors from Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
One group member, the son of Christian missionaries, spent several years in Italy. “I just love the Italian people and the faith community that’s over there,” he says.
While in Rome, Feast of Faith members will spend two days with professors from Waldensian Theological Seminary. One of their goals is to understand what it’s like to be a minority Protestant faith group in a country where the vast majority of the population is Catholic. The group will then take several days at a retreat center outside of Florence to participate in worship with the Waldensian church. While there, they will also help with the maintenance of the retreat center, as well as contribute time to a local children’s home. The idea, they say, is not only to incorporate aspects of Sabbath, study, and service into all their activity while in Italy, but to learn how those aspects of ministry are carried out by the Waldensians, and to bring an understanding of that context back to their own churches in the States.
The application procedure requires submission of a proposal for a group plan, along with information about each of the individuals in the group. Information and application materials are available through Columbia’s website, www.CTSnet.edu, under Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education programs. Applications are due April 23, 2004. Groups will be notified of acceptance by May 14 and will attend orientation on the Columbia campus August 23-27.
Dent C. Davis, vice president and dean of Lifelong Learning at Columbia, serves as the S3 Project’s director. “The project develops support groups, fosters skills and ideas for ministry, and offers opportunity for the development of creative approaches for learning,” Davis says. Columbia’s role in the project is to provide resources, coaching, structure, and other support to the project’s groups.
Out of 730 proposals submitted in 2003 and 2004, Columbia’s S3 Project is one of 63 “Sustaining Pastoral Excellence” grants awarded by the Lilly Endowment. Three other seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) also received grants. “Sustaining Pastoral Excellence” is an effort of the Lilly Endowment to focus attention and energy on maintaining a high caliber of leadership among the country’s pastors.
Genie Addleton, 404 687-4530