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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. One group of North Carolina pastors accepted to the S3 Project’s inaugural year is focusing its efforts on how technology can effectively be harnessed by administrators, educators, and worship leaders in ministry. Four pastors—Kevin Conley of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem; Lucy Turner of Shallowford Presbyterian in Lewisville; Edward Carter of First Presbyterian in Mocksville; and Bill Hoyle of Clemmons Presbyterian in Clemmons—formed their group to investigate how pastors and smaller churches might take advantage of the vast and ever-changing market of technological resources. Expanding their knowledge of technological resources, evaluating software, and passing on their knowledge to colleagues are just several objectives the pastors have lined up for themselves. “We believe that a more effective use of technology [will] enhance our own personal ministries as well as the ministry of our presbytery as a whole,” the group’s project proposal explains. After evaluating products for database maintenance, website development, public presentations, digital photography, and computer hardware, the pastors hope to implement a number of technological resources in their own practices of 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 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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