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 Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth, serves as director.

This program includes not only lifelong learning opportunities, but may include 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 Consider this Program

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.

Currently the seminar is offered by general registration. Should space be an issue, preference may be given to participants 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

April 26-29, 2022 Baptism and Belonging:  Creating, Becoming, and Being Beloved Community – we regret that this seminar has been canceled.

The 2022 seminar will be led by Dr. Lisa M Weaver, Assistant Professor of Worship. Dr. Watkins tapped Weaver to lead the seminar during his sabbatical. Registration will open early summer 2021. The program fee is $175, which includes three breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners. Housing is additional.

The seminar leader team, led by Dr. Weaver, assistant professor of worship at the seminary, includes Dr. Martha Moore-Keish, the J.B. Green Professor of Theology at the seminary, the Rev. Adriene Thorne, senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, NY and the Rev. Dr. John H. Vaughn, executive pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. The leader team will  lead participants in the exploration of the connection between baptism and Beloved Community, what Beloved Community looks like, and the church’s role in participating in this vision that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King described.

Save the dates of April 25-28, 2023. The working title of this seminar is Seeing the Future of the African American Church in the Rainbow: The Birth of a Movement. The seminar will feature Bishop Yvette Flunder, Bishop Sonya Williams,  Rev. Dr. Horace Griffin and Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins.

Program Topics

Recent topics include:

2021: The Disciple-Making Church: To Grow the Future, We Visit the Past (canceled)

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

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.