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Brevard County Pastors Receive Grant for Special Project


Decatur, GA—An ecumenical group of pastors from central Brevard County 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. Members of the group, who call themselves Hokey Pokey Preachers, are Robert Wallace, Jr., Cocoa Presbyterian Church, Thomas Gibson, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and David McGaffic, First United Methodist Church, in Cocoa; George Wilcox, Rockledge Presbyterian and Clarice Mitchell, Hope United Church of Christ, in Rockledge; Robert Pearcy, Grace United Methodist Church, in Merritt Island; and Robert Wiseman, C.S.C., St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, in Viera. The pastors had been meeting weekly to share their reflections on upcoming lectionary passages. When their discussions moved from preaching to pastoral support, the idea for submitting an S3 Project proposal grew out of their desire to move the group to a deeper level of effectiveness. In their project proposal, the group explained that they chose the name “Hokey Pokey Preachers” because they see it as an affirmation of how the flow of ministry, especially between areas of Sabbath and service, involves, as the old song says, “putting your whole self in and taking your whole self out.” Aware of the rich ecumenical diversity among group members, the project will focus on the effect a pastor’s life story has on his or her proclamation of the Scriptures. With their emphasis on connecting the human story to God’s story, the Hokey Pokey Preachers say they hope the Sabbath portion of their project will help them deepen their awareness to “rest” more assuredly in God—the world God has created, and the kingdom God is creating and how our individual stories are included in God’s creating activity. 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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