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Guthrie Scholarship: Manna for Your Ministry?

by Lifelong Learning Staff

2010 Guthrie Scholar Bill Weimer

One participant in Lifelong Learning’s Guthrie Scholars program called the experience “manna for ministry.”

Read below the stories of two recent Guthrie Scholars and consider whether this mini-sabbatical might provide manna for YOUR ministry. (See a link with details for how to apply at the end of this article.)

JULIE HESTER:

 “The Guthrie Scholarship gift of time to pursue a project of my choice has been valuable in unanticipated ways.

“My initial goal was to leave the week with plans for a congregational-based writing group. For eight years, I have been part of a non-church-related writing group that has become a sort of spiritual practice for me. I wanted to see whether the same model will translate to the church.

“My hope was to gather a series of well-thought-out prompts and materials to use with a group interested in writing as a spiritual practice through the coming Advent.

“Surely, I thought, a week would be long enough to pull the project into shape. Instead, I found the subject to be deeper than my program-focused approach.

“For one thing, exploring the resources of the CTS Library turned up readings on the theory of spiritual practice and on writing about faith. I had only a cursory knowledge of these background materials.

“And for another, discussions with faculty led me to think of new possibilities and directions I hadn’t considered for the project.

“Wednesday arrived, and it became clear I wasn’t going to get my plan for Advent finished by Friday. So, I slowed down and decided to enjoy the gift of time and materials just to read, reflect, and think about the ideas I was exploring.

“Along the way, I talked with my fellow scholars about their research, visited with friends and colleagues at the seminary, enjoyed the meals in the Refectory, and spent a bunch of money at the Bookstore.

“I haven’t yet put my plan into action. This past year has brought a change in my ministry to a new city and a new church. When I am able, I do expect to begin some sort of writing group in this new context. It won’t look exactly the way I thought it would when I came to Columbia, and that will be a good thing.

“I continue to reap the benefits of that week as I think about this project and remember to value the reading-thinking-ruminating time for other projects. I encourage others to apply for the Guthrie Scholarship. See where your week will take you.”

BILL WEIMER:

“My congregation and I are grateful for the week I spent at Columbia Seminary as a Guthrie Scholar in 2010. It benefitted us both!

“As pastor and chaplain, I minister in a retirement community of folks ranging in age from late 50s to mid-90s. The theme of my Guthrie Scholars studies was "Finishing Well." How do we live the fourth quarter of our lives faithfully? Do we simply retire and rock away our years? Or, do we continue to serve and honor the Lord to the end of our days? How do we do this well?

“Researching books and journals and talking with faculty, I found excellent resources and had time to study women and men in Scripture, around the theme of our "elder years" of life.

“Returning to my congregation, I developed an eight-part sermon series which was very well received. And now, I have material to write a Bible study or small book on Finishing Well."

How about YOUR ministry? Need some time – say, a week! – to read, reflect, rest, and refresh yourself for ministry? Short on concentrated time to prepare lessons or sermons? Longing for a block of time to ponder and pray about your ministry content? Just need a nap after lunch?

The Guthrie Scholars five-day “sabbatical” includes seminary library use, consultation with theological faculty, and free room and board.

Deadline to apply for the next Guthrie Scholars Week (October 31-November 11, 2011) is September 15, 2011. Click here for details about the program and an application form. For best results, print out your completed application form and fax it to 404-687-4591. Attention Linda Morningstar.