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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. Last year, Bob Bronkema of First Presbyterian Church in East Palatka, FL, was accepted to the S3 project along with a group of colleagues. The group, which is called “Feast of Faith,” met while they were students at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ. They will travel to Rome this year to study the Waldensian church, the oldest Reformed Protestant denomination in the world. Other group members include pastors from Illinois, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. While in Rome, Feast of Faith members will spend two days with professors from Waldensian Theological Seminary. Their biggest question, says Bronkema, is what it’s like “to be a minority Protestant faith group in a country where the vast majority of the population is [Roman] Catholic.” The group will spend several days at a retreat center outside of Florence to participate in worship with the Waldensian church. While there, they will also help with the maintenance of the retreat center, and work in a local children’s home. The idea, Bronkema says, is not only to incorporate aspects of Sabbath, study, and service into all their activity while in Italy, but to learn how those aspects of ministry are carried out by the Waldensians, and to bring an understanding of that context back to their own churches in the States. 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 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

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

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