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North Carolina “Bi-Vocational” Pastors Receive Grant for Special Project


Decatur, GA—Five central North Carolina pastors 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. Participating in the project, titled “Restoration of Hope,” are Debora Smith, Turner’s Chapel AME, High Point; David Miller, Christ Fellowship Church, Asheboro; and, from Greensboro, Michael Cotton, DVM, Body of Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Dallas Scales, Word of Hope Fellowship; and Jeff O. Smith, Dayspring Community Church. Through the project, group members are exploring the challenges and the joys of life for pastors who are “bi-vocational,” meaning that they are also employed in positions outside the church. According to their project plan, they will “examine those touch points where our roles in secular and religious settings both correlate and conflict.” These pastors say that through the project they hope to help themselves and their congregations find ways to serve both inside and outside of the church building as they seek to be faithful disciples. One aspect of their service component includes providing their congregations and communities with opportunities to experience a variety of worship expressions in traditional and contemporary settings through interfaith services or conferences. Still, they say that their primary goal is to develop a simple model that can be used by churches and para-churches to support pastors “who serve without rest.” 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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