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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. Through academic study, time with students, and a few rounds of golf, members of one S3 group hope to understand where the church might be headed in the next 50 years. Five pastors from Georgia and one from Oklahoma formed one of the peer groups that was accepted during the project’s inaugural year of 2003: Ray Dykes of the Personal Pastor Program in Oklahoma City, OK; Glenn Doak of First Presbyterian in Athens, GA and Robert Googe of the University of Georgia; Gary Lowe of Ray Memorial Presbyterian in Monroe; Jeffrey Newlin of Reid Memorial Presbyterian in Augusta; and Jerry Dean Weber of Presbyterian Homes of Georgia in Atlanta. Calling themselves “Pastors, Golf, and Ecclesiology: The Church Then and Now,” group members look forward to studying how the church has conducted ministry in the past, and asking where that ministry has placed the Presbyterian Church and the wider Christian community within today’s world of ministry. “The answer [to this question],” their project proposal explains, “will better prepare us to minister…to the Presbyterian Church of tomorrow.” For the Sabbath portion of their S3 project, members of Pastors, Golf, and Ecclesiology plan to gather several times during the coming year for group retreats in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. There they’ll continue their discussions on ecclesiology, focusing as well on their own experience in ministry. As avid golfers, they add, they’ll be sure to include enough time for at least 18 holes a day. And during the service component of their S3 project, the pastors will work with several seminary students, discussing their findings on ecclesiology. 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

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