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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. Members of the Florida-based “San Marco Clergy & Consultation” group count the diversity of ministries of their group members among their greatest assets in their S3 project. The different challenges, they say, presented by such settings as a large downtown church, a hospital, and a pastoral counseling center, provide opportunities for mentoring among group members. Six pastors—Elizabeth Haynes of Northside Presbyterian Church and Kathryn Moore of in St. Vincent’s Medical Center in St. Augustine; Vincent Kolb of South Jacksonville Presbyterian, Louis Lothman of Pastoral Counseling Services, and John Ragsdale of Geneva Presbyterian in Jacksonville; and Timothy Simpson of Fellowship Presbyterian in Tallahassee—make up the San Marco Clergy group, utilizing their diverse skills as ministers and borrowing the model of a consulting firm to support one another’s ministries. “The feedback and engagement is life-giving to each of us,” group members say, adding, as they quote Prof. Emeritus Walter Brueggeman of Columbia Seminary, that they “are especially challenged by the call to Sabbath and by the painful reality of ministering in a culture of ‘militant consumerism.‘” As they study two books, Gregory Mayers’ Listen To The Desert: Secrets of Spiritual Maturity from the Desert Mothers and Fathers, and Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation, the San Marco Clergy hope to strengthen their vocational skills. In continuing their study of wisdom literature, taking part in several retreats, and engaging in the service component of their project at the Spirituality Center at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Jacksonville, they aim to continue to provide vital collegial support and feedback to one another. 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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