Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

CTS Alums Explore Peer Groups, Application Process for S3 Project.

by Lifelong Learning Staff

S3 groups during annual orientation/retreat

At first glance it was no big deal—one pastor friend talking to another couple of pastor friends (and fellow CTS alums) on Facebook, asking if they had any sort of peer study group experience.

 Then something sparked. A few more friends got invited into the conversation.  Along with the word study, the word Sabbath got thrown into the mix. Then, perhaps not surprisingly, so did service and finally S3.
“As we talked, each of us realized we needed two things: peer to peer interaction with people we loved and trusted, and a kick in the pants to stop talking about it and actually do it,” said the Rev.  Ben Acton (MDiv, '05).   “Being Columbia alums, S3 immediately sprang to mind.  The S3 (Sabbath, Study and Service Project) began in 2003, about the time several of us were students at CTS. Several other friends have been in S3 groups. We knew of their positive experiences. We just needed to act.”
Now that talk has moved to the application and dreaming phase, the excitement for the opportunity to interact with old friends in new ways is palpable.
The one thing I did not anticipate when graduating seminary and beginning my ministry was just how valuable my colleagues would be,” added Leslie Bethell Roper (MDiv, '06). “Even from half way across the country, wisdom and encouragement from a colleague can make all the difference in the world.”

In addition to Acton and Bethell Roper, the group consists of the Revs. Brad Clayton (MDiv '04), Sarah Cooper-Searight (MDiv.,'06), Patrick Laney (MDiv., '06), and Ashley Anne-Masters (MDiv., '07).

As for the project?  With group members having various responsibilities from hospital chaplaincy to youth ministry, it could be difficult to find common ground.  However, one thing each of the pastors in this particular group has going for it is their age.
“We're all young adults. And we all interact--either because of our job description or just by who we are--with young adults both in and outside of church,” said Acton. “That seems like a natural place to begin.” 
“The question we are rolling around with right now is how do we embody “Sabbath” in a way that we might also offer the gifts of Sabbath to others like us--both pastors and laypeople alike--who are seemingly always on the move?”
The most empowering element  for this group, however, is trusting that the Holy Spirit will take these initial ideas and make something even bigger than what they have already imagined.

“S3 is going to give our cohort a structure and a focus in which we can explore ways to grow in our own ministries by leaning on and learning from each other,” said Roper.    “And we hope that being a part of S3 will give us momentum to sustain this learning community beyond the project year as well.”

 In other words, small beginnings, by God's grace, may yet lead to big things.
Applications for the 2013 S3 Cohort are due September 21.  For information about the program, including application process and forms, click HERE or contact Sarah Erickson, project coordinator and director of Lifelong Learning at 404-687-4526 or