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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. Seven pastors based in and around Anderson, SC were accepted during the project’s inaugural year of 2003: In Anderson, George West of AnMed Health System, David Bailey of Central Presbyterian Church, Johnny McKinney of Boulevard Baptist, Tom Richie of Young Memorial A.R. Presbyterian, and Samuel Stewart of Mt. Carmel Christian Methodist Episcopal; in Pelzer, Nancy Blakely of Hospice of the Upstate; and in Central, SC, Fr. David Randolph of Christ the Savior Mission/Antiochan Eastern Orthodox. Group members adopted the name “Eighth Day of Creation,” inspired by the early Christian church’s evolution from its roots in the Jewish synagogue into something far beyond those early Christians’ imaginations. Eighth Day members see a similar evolution in the role of today’s church. “We want to know how to lead congregations,” their project proposal explains, “in taking a critical look at the cultural pressures and demands that tend to control the direction of the church’s mission, message, and ministry.” The S3 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 the 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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