Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Thompson Scholars Program

A selective lifelong learning opportunity, the Thompson Scholars program brings pastors and other church leaders with a special interest in evangelism to the seminary campus. The annual intensive study experience focuses on a variety of topics to prepare evangelism leaders for the future. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, Peachtree Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth, serves as director.  

Thompson Scholars 2016 will take place April 26-29 and explore the topic, “Can They See Your Church? Evangelism in the Digital Age.” 

This is the visual age. The number one activity on the web is the posting of pictures and video. This workshop will empower leaders to rethink how we do evangelism in the visual age.  We will wrestle with these and other questions:

  • How is your church "seen" in this age?
  • How do you connect with those who are looking for a church on the web instead of driving by and looking at the sign in front of the building?
  • How can you develop and maintain relationships with those who are seeking connections  virtually and  “face to face”?
  • What is the "image" of your church in the virtual world?
  • What do you want people to see and know about you ministry when they do an internet search and how do you present what God is doing in and through your ministry via moving and still images?

The conversation and strategies will be deeply rooted theologically and sociologically as to why and how we might best engage the visual generation. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, the Peachtree Associate professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Theological Seminary, socio-theologian, photographer and visual storyteller, will lead this event along with the Rev. Keith Anderson, pastor of Dublin Lutheran Church near Philadelphia and the author of The Digital Cathedral Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (required reading for the seminar). A panel of young adults will also share their thoughts about how they are engaging this world via Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Flickr and Twitter.

The application deadline for the 2016 cohort of Thompson Scholars is closed as of January 25, 2016. Those selected will be notified by the beginning of February.

A program fee of $150 covers seminar registration, on-campus meals and refreshment. Participants are responsible for their lodging costs, on campus or at a location of their own selection. Registration instructions for the course and for the seminary’s online learning platform, Moodle, will be sent to applicants following acceptance. Pre-course preparation, including reading and discussion, is required.

To learn more about Dr. Watkins:
Instagram: Basui
facebook: ralph basui watkins
Twitter: ralphbasui

And more about Pastor Keith Anderson:
The Digital Cathedral Networked Ministry in a Wireless World


Thompson Scholars is generously supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at the seminary. The Thompson Scholars program was initiated in 1981. This program includes not only lifelong learning opportunities, but also courses for basic and advanced degree students. Course work focuses on the church’s evangelistic mission in the rapidly changing context of North America and across the globe.

For more information, please contact Sarah Erickson, director of lifelong learning, at or 404-687-4526.