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Birmingham Pastors Receive Grant for Faith and Reconciliation Project


Decatur, GA—An ecumenical group of nine pastors from the Birmingham area have received a grant from the S3 Project of Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, GA. For the two-year program, the pastors receive approximately $1,000 each per year to fund a project 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. Naming themselves “Faith and Reconciliation (FAR),” the Birmingham group includes Mark Andrus, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama; Raymond A. Dunmyer, Jr., Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church; J. R. Finney II, Covenant Metropolitan Community Church; Hughey Reynolds, Highlands United Methodist Church; Edwin Hurley, South Highland Presbyterian Church; James Jones, Southside Baptist Church, Homewood; Jonathan Miller, Temple Emanu-El; Robert Montgomery, Greater Birmingham Ministries/Cahaba Valley Church; and Clyde “Bud” Precise, Pilgrim Congregational Church. According to their project proposal, FAR’s goal is to develop a model for cooperation that affirms the core beliefs of their individual faith traditions and leads to a better understanding of religious diversity. “Living in Birmingham, Alabama, a city embodying historic divisions, we see the need for reconciliation,” group members say. “During these difficult times in our world, religious divisions have been increasingly separating us. We hope that our religious institutions can be a catalyst for reconciliation instead of division and bitterness.” As part of their project, FAR members hope to visit the Balkan region in southeastern Europe, an area recovering from centuries of religious strife. Their plan is to observe and question how individuals and groups have been true to the core beliefs of their religions and denominations while working with those who beliefs differ from their own. Columbia Theological Seminary’s S3 Project is 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. The application procedure requires a group proposal and individual applications for each group member. Applications for new projects are due April 22, 2005. Groups will be notified of acceptance by May 13, 2005. Each group is expected to attend an orientation workshop on the Columbia campus August 15-19. For information about the S3 Project or application materials, please visit or contact Sarah Erickson, associate director for Lifelong Learning and S3 Project coordinator, at 404-687-4526 or Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, Georgia, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Out of 730 proposals submitted in 2003 and 2004, Columbia’s S3 Project is one of 63 “Sustaining Pastoral Excellence” grants awarded by the Lilly Endowment. Three other seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) also received grants. 

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