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

Sabbath, Study & Service Groups Conclude & Begin

by Lifelong Learning Staff

Columbia Seminary’s 2011 Sabbath / Study / Service Cohorts

Recent participants in Columbia Seminary’s S3 project (Sabbath, Study, and Service) have delved into an array of themes, from diversity awareness to sustainable peer groups, worship leadership, spiritual practices, and creative collaboration on liturgy resources.

While exploring these topics, they have used a variety of activities, including hiking, weekend retreats, worship planning, silence, rest, gardening, Web design, and social networking media.

The S3 project is a Lilly-funded program that offers small, self-selected groups of clergy and other church professionals the opportunity to design and participate in learning projects that strengthen their practice of ministry.

During CTS’ 8th annual S3 Orientation Retreat in February 2011, the 2010 cohort completed its work and program evaluations, and a new 2011 cohort attended its project orientation.

Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Initiative, each peer group receives $500 per person to fund its self-directed group work.

Data gathered through the S3 project contributes to research being done at the seminary and in broader academic circles, on topics such as how to sustain a lifetime of pastoral ministry and the relationship between vital leaders and vibrant congregations.

The five groups in CTS’ 2010 cohort received certificates of completion for successful completion of their own projects and for meeting the overall S3 program requirements. Below are descriptions of each of the 2010 groups’ projects.

(Interested in applying to participate in the S3 Project? See related story, “Apply by September 30 for 2012 S3 Cohort,” in this issue of Journeying Together.

Diversity Awareness (Isaac Arthur, Jean Beedoe, Jane Cheng, Christina Hicks, Ruata Hmar)
As pastors from different countries and faith traditions, this group explored diversity-related issues in many form – race, gender, age, education and socio-economic status. Their Sabbath included shared meals and a weekend retreat. Their service included engaging their own faith communities in conversations about diversity.

Journeymen (Mark Addington, Joe Buck, Robert Greene, Scott Hagan, Thad Haygood, Jimmy Towson)

Six United Methodist pastors spent a year together studying the Psalms of Ascent, guided by Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” They met, hiked, and fellowshipped, and then shared these activities with residents of the Carpenter’s Way Ranch children’s home. Their underlying goal: to create a sustainable peer group through which they can encourage one another as they serve God through the local church as pastors.

The Liturgium (Julie Cox, Jeff Peterson-Davis, Kerri Peterson-Davis, Marci Auld Glass, Chris Jones)

These five Presbyterian pastors and educators are committed to thoughtful, creative, faithful worship for themselves and their communities. The Liturgium is loosely based on the concept of the Actor’s Studio: they gathered for a week-long Sabbath and shared study by the sea, where they practiced the art of worship leadership while developing resources for use throughout the church year. Their work will be shared with the wider community, through publication in the resource, “A Call to Worship.”

The Magdalenes (Rebecca Black, Maria Rutland, Cynthia Skutar, Laura Smith)
This group of women –Presbyterian, United Methodist and Roman Catholic – from rural southeastern Michigan explored the counter-cultural practice of Sabbath-keeping, especially from a communal perspective. They deepened their knowledge of the effect of silence, Sabbath and “thin places” and explored the inter-relationship between them. Their shared work will result in one or more experiential workshops for both laity and clergy.

Seeking Sabbath (John Ryan, Anna Brown, Lynn Turnage, Mardee Rightmyer, Linda Steber)
This group of Christian educators studied and experience Sabbath together through the lens of spiritual practices from various faith traditions. Through retreats, kinesthetic learning, eating together, praying together, and taking time together, they practiced new ways to approach Sabbath. They shared their learnings at the 2011 APCE Conference in Albuquerque, NM.
Following is a description of the 2011 cohorts’ projects:

Earthen Vessels (Amy Lehr Camp, Kathy McLean, Katie Day, Katie Robb, Laurie Furr-Vancini)
Using 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 and Genesis 1 and 2 as focal passages, this group has committed to building a supportive community that will explore the connections between mind, body, spirit and creation. They will engage in embodied spiritual practices and plan to share these with a group of at-risk young women with whom they have worked in the past.

Fallow for Faithfulness (Marty Alan Michelson, Wendell Sutton, Jeremy Graham, Eli Pagel, Levi Jones, Stephen Vandervort
Through intentional reading and reflection, a fall retreat in Idaho, and community service projects, this group hopes to develop communal and individual practices of Sabbath that focus on the relationship between humanity and all of God’s creation. They will use a blog to share their reflections and to develop a list of shared resources.

Gettin’ Scenic (Kevin Cartee, Leigh McManus, Whitney Moss, Carrie Pannell , Jennifer Walker)
Serving in a variety of ministry settings, these young church professionals find it difficult to carve out time for Sabbath, study and service. Recognizing these elements are vital to their sustained leadership, they hope to identify and create Sabbath spaces, engage in imaginative and disciplined inquiry, and experience various forms of service. Their aim: to grow in their spiritual formation, while accompanying others on their journey of faith. Their capstone will be a beach retreat; their service: a workshop about church professionals and Sabbath practices, shared within their judicatories.

Liturgy Link (Andy James, Laura Becker, Teri Peterson, Scott Cervas)
This group aims to inspire the work of the people by designing an online forum – web design and networking with other pastors – for creative collaboration in writing and sharing liturgy. They will read and discuss books about social media and ministry, rest, play, eat good food and worship together. They hope to continue to develop friendships and be in community with other colleagues through social networking media. Their Sabbath will include fasting from the connections of social media from time to time.

S4 (Sabbath, Study and Service in Savannah) (Ed Ayers, Eric Beene, Don Dilley, Greg Gillespie, Stephen Williams)
Gathering in their city, this group plans to: Study – exploring the variety of congregations they serve, to enhance worship experiences for themselves and their congregations. Serve – sharing new insights on worship with their congregations and colleagues in the Presbytery. Practice Sabbath – engaging in disciplined times of rest and recreation, alone, together, and with their families.