Columbia Seminary Receives Wabash Grant for “Exercising Our Faith” Project

Columbia Seminary Receives Wabash Grant for “Exercising Our Faith” Project

January 20, 2018—Columbia Theological Seminary announced the award of a small project grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion for a new effort called “Exercising Our Faith: Moving Towards Greater Health and Wholeness.” The project will assess how the seminary may improve student learning and teaching regarding health and wholeness by reviewing institutional culture and curricula.

“This project idea emerged out of the data collected for my doctoral thesis, Fit to Serve: Making Seminaries Models of Health and Wholeness, which investigated the main health issues impacting the masters-level degree students at Columbia Seminary,” noted Karen Webster, a recent DMin alumna and co-founder/executive director of the Healthy Seminarians-Healthy Church non-profit organization. “This study revealed that the most prevalent health issues impacting clergy (e.g. high obesity rates, heart disease, and poor mental health) can already be found on seminary campuses.”

Goals for the “Exercising Our Faith” program include various steps to creating a community of practice. (1) Assess Columbia Seminary’s institutional, curricular, and pedagogical structures and methods related to health and wholeness. (2) Establish measurable and timely goals for enhancing student learning on health and wholeness in Columbia Seminary’s integrative course offerings. (3) Lead the faculty in conversations to integrate health and wholeness into Columbia Seminary’s curricula.

“I love how our seminary serves as a nursery for practical ideas, like ‘Exercising Our Faith,’ with the potential to impact the church as a whole,” said Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Seminary. “I am thankful for Prof. Jake Myers and others who cooperated to pursue this grant and make this project a reality. This is just one more way we seek to train effective leaders, who can integrate personal experience with the history and theology of the Christian Church to respond with imagination and resilience to the challenges and opportunities facing the contemporary church and world.”

Later this spring, Karen Webster will make a presentation to seminary faculty and administrators at the Southeast Symposium on Ecologically Informed Theological Education from March 21-23, 2018 hosted at Columbia Seminary. The symposium will explore how theological education can address our ecological reality. The event is co-sponsored by The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, The Green Seminary Initiative, and Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

The Wabash Center supports theology and religion faculty and doctoral students reflecting on their teaching practice—in both theological education and undergraduate education, in North America. The Wabash Center facilitates faculty conversations about the goals and processes of teaching and student learning. Located in Crawfordsville, IN, the Wabash Center programming develops faculty skills for critical reflection on teaching practice.

The Health Seminarians-Healthy Church Initiative (HSHC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks to help seminary communities, clergy, and church members think theologically about health and learn practical ways of living into the abundant life that God offers us. HSHC seeks to raise up church leaders who are educated in, value, and practice healthy living as an integral part of their ministries. HSHC brings about awareness of how people’s stewardship of their own health (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional) is interconnected with the health of God’s whole creation. And HSHC seeks to improve the health of both seminaries and the communities around them.

Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:
Karen Webster
HSHC Cofounder/Executive Director

Michael Thompson
Director of Communications

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