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Area Pastor Awarded Grant for “Reformed Worship” Project


Decatur, GA—An area Presbyterian pastor and three colleagues from other states 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. The group, whose project is called “Reformed Worship,” met while they were students at Columbia and have been getting together on a regular basis for more than 20 years. Group members include the following: • Sheppard “Shepp” Lawrence, First Presbyterian Church, Orlando, FL • John Roper, Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY • Lamar Potts, Spring Valley Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC • Harry Barrow, Newnan Presbyterian Church, Newnan, GA The group will focus on worship in the Reformed tradition; however, their project proposal says they plan to create a fresh model of worship that is based on the essential traditional elements of Word and sacraments. The work of author Ronald Byars, who refers to these elements as “bath, bread and book,” will form part of the study component of their project. According to their project proposal, their assumption is that “the mainline church has experienced a loss of imagination in its worship.” They say, “We believe contemporary worship offers a critique of this loss. We want to see if there are creative ways this critique can inform traditional worship to such an extent that the bath water is fresh, the bread is not stale, and the book is not a dead but a living Word.” The group plans to attend the music and worship conference at Montreat (Presbyterian) Conference Center, in North Carolina, this summer and will travel to Chicago to discuss the roots of Reformed worship with a professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. They also plan a visit to Willow Creek Church, a non-denominational church outside Chicago that attracts as many as 20,000 people to weekly worship services. Members of the “Reformed Worship” project team say that they hope one of the results of their project will be to create an excitement and vitality for Reformed worship. They also hope to communicate their experiences to churches and presbyteries that are struggling with these same issues regarding emerging worship styles. “Through study, reflection, and experimentation,” group members say, “ we will be able to create a model for Reformed worship that would offer, to anyone interested, ways to enhance what is often referred to as traditional worship.” 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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