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Columbia Theological Seminary’s S3 Project Offers Grants to Pastors for Sustaining Excellence in Ministry


Decatur, GA. – Applications are being accepted through 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. Transformation and renewal for ministry is at the heart of the S3 project for one group of newly ordained pastors in Memphis and Nashville, TN. This group, whose members met while students at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, and call themselves “Walking Emmaus,” is dedicated to nurturing one another in their early years in ministry. Jennifer Fouse, campus minister at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Kate and Andrew Foster Connors of Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, and Anne H. K. Apple, also of Memphis, were inspired by the story of the encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke when they formed their group. Over the first five months of their S3 project, “Walking Emmaus” members have taken part in a planning summit for a youth conference and are undertaking a series of reflections about their individual ministries. Their time in the two-year project will culminate in June 2005 with a mission trip to Central America. Designed to minister to a community outside of their own familiar contexts, the group anticipates that this journey will enlighten and stimulate their ministries back home. When thinking about the radically different contexts of their own rolls as ministers, group members say they find themselves asking “‘Where is it we’ve come from?‘ and ‘Where is it we’re going?‘” Walking Emmaus hopes to answer those questions with hearts tuned to the shared aspects of their pastoral roles, as well as the diversity of their gifts and challenges. The application procedure requires a group proposal and individual applications for each group member. Information and application materials are available through Columbia’s website,, under Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education programs, or by contacting Sarah Erickson, associate director for Continuing Education and S3 project coordinator, at 404 687-4526, or at Applications are due April 23, 2004. Groups will be notified of acceptance by May 14. Each group is expected to attend an orientation workshop on the Columbia campus August 23-27. Dent C. Davis, vice president and dean of Lifelong Learning at Columbia, serves as director of S3 Project. “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 64 “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. xxx

Genie Addleton, 404 687-4530
FAX 404-377-9696

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