Thompson Scholars

The Thompson Scholars program brings pastors and other church leaders with an interest in evangelism, to the seminary campus each spring.

This 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.

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.

Who Should Apply

The program is open to clergy serving in congregations and other settings of ministry, Christian educators, lay pastors, judicatory staff, and in some cases other leaders fully involved in the life of the church who have an interest in evangelism in general and the annual topic under consideration.

Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars.

Program Structure

The seminar takes place over 3 days, generally Tuesday afternoon – Friday morning. Dr. Watkins and other leaders design a learning experience that draws on the knowledge and expertise of the leaders and participants alike.

Dates and Costs

The 2020 convening of Thompson Scholars will not take place due to the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic. The individuals who applied for 2020 have been invited to transfer their participation to 2021 seminar, which will meet April 20-23, 2021.  Additional applications will be accepted until December 18, 2020.

Thanks to the Thompson Scholars’ endowment, the program fee covers all meals on campus during the seminar and all course materials. The program fee for the seminar is $175.00. It includes six meals on campus, refreshments, and all program materials. Guest housing on campus is also available for a reasonable rate and  may be reserved at the time of acceptance and completion of registration.

Program Topics

We will offer the same topic we intended to offer in 2020: “The Disciple-Making Church: To Grow the Future We Visit the Past.” The dates are April 20-23, 2021.

There is a new movement sweeping the church that lays a foundation for growing churches in North America: the “disciple making church”. This model of Congregational formation will be explored and extended to include more liberative models of a disciple-making church.  We will explore what it means to develop mature disciples of Jesus Christ who make a real difference in the world by actively seeking the love, justice, freedom and peace of God.

Watkins has invited the Rev. Albert Tate, founder and lead pastor of Fellowship Church, Monrovia, CA. and  the Rev. Dr. Lisa Weaver, Assistant Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, to share leadership of the 2020 seminar. Albert and his wife LaRosa planted Fellowship Church, a Gospel-Centered, Multi-Ethnic and Intergenerational church in January 2012. Albert serves on the Board of Trustees at Azusa Pacific University & Fuller Youth Institute. He was recently published in Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lisa is holds the MPhil from The Catholic University of America, where she is completing her PhD. She has served as Visiting Scholar at Calvin College and Worship Grants Advisory Board Member at the Calvin Institutes of Worship. She is ordained by the American Baptist Churches U.S.A.

Recent topics include:

2020: Postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic

2019: Tell Me Your Story and I’ll Know Why I Should Come to Your Church

2017: Evangelism and Social Justice: Re-imagining Evangelism for Such a Time as This

2016: Can They See Your Church? Evangelism in the Digital Age

2015: Spiritual Pioneers: The Call, Risks and Blessings of Church Development

2014: A Different World: Evangelism for the Screenshare Generation

2013: Evangelism: A New Scorecard

2012: Breathing Life into Young Adult Ministry

How to Apply

Please complete the application by December 18, 2020:

Scholars accepted for the 2020 seminar have been offered a transfer into the 2021 seminar. We will continue to accept applications until the seminar is full or December 18, 2020. Preference is given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars.

About the Thompson Scholars Program

Thompson Scholars began in 1981 and is generously supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at the seminary.

For more information, please email Sarah Erickson, Director of Lifelong Learning, or call 404-687-4526.