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β€œThe last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matt. 20:16

Re-Forming Ministry
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Karen Russell
(888) 728-7228, x5401
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100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Overview of program design

Re-Forming Ministry will form four distinct, yet related clusters of pastors, church officials, and theological faculty. Re-Forming Ministry clusters will meet over the grant period to explore basic theological/ecclesiological issues. The Core Cluster will begin to meet during the first, organizational year of Re-Forming Ministry and will continue to meet three times annually throughout the initiative. The other three clusters will meet twice annually for the final four years. The clusters will provide alternative ecclesial space in which participants will be free to forge new patterns of shared theological work, exploring ecclesiological issues from national, congregational, seminary and judicatory perspectives. All clusters will focus on the pastoral-ecclesial system, seeking ways to encourage and sustain pastoral excellence. All will do their work publicly, engaging wider circles of pastors, professors and church officials in their conversations.

While all clusters will engage in a common task, each cluster will focus its work on an issue arising from a particular locus of ministry. Pastors, professors and church officials have discrete angles of vision and specific responsibilities. However, as representatives of the three loci speak from their own social location they engage in a common effort to enhance a fully constructive theological approach to the whole pastoral-ecclesial culture.

Core cluster

A group of 21 members will be formed: 11 pastors, five church officials and five theological faculty. Theological exploration will focus on broad ecclesiological issues, with special attention to the denominational identity and functioning of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Participants in the Core Cluster will shape individual research, thinking and writing to serve the shared purposes of Re-Forming Ministry. Both the shared and individual work of the Core Cluster will be widely disseminated throughout the church via print and electronic media, consultations, educational programs and church events.

Pastor initiative cluster

Two groups will be formed, one to commence work in the second year and one to begin in the fourth year. Each group consists of 10 pastors, 4 church officials, and 4 theological faculty. The initiative for framing issues and directing inquiry will lie with pastors, but will fully engage professors and church officials as all three loci of the pastoral-ecclesial system bring particular perspectives and insights to bear on common problems. Pastor Initiative Groups might explore issues such as strengthening the ordered ministries of elders and deacons, recovering the practices of baptismal discipline or evangelism in a religiously plural culture.

Church official initiative cluster

Two groups will be formed, one to commence work in the second year and one to begin in the fourth year. Each group consists of 10 pastors, 4 church officials, and 4 theological faculty. The initiative for framing issues and directing inquiry will lie with church officials, but will fully engage pastors and professors as all three loci of the pastoral-ecclesial system bring particular perspectives and insights to bear on common problems. Church Official Initiative Groups might explore preparation and supervision of Commissioned Lay Pastors, the sense in which presbyteries might be "congregations" for their members, ways in which presbyteries and synods are settings for the exercise of the teaching office, or new possibilities for identifying and developing candidates for ministry.

Faculty initiative cluster

Two groups will be formed, one to commence work I in the second year and one to begin in the fourth year. Each group consists of 10 pastors, 4 church officials, and 4 theological faculty. The initiative for framing issues and directing inquiry will lie with faculty, but will fully engage pastors and church officials as all three loci of the pastoral-ecclesial system bring particular perspectives and insights to bear on common problems. Faculty Initiative groups might explore the marks of readiness for ministry, faculty as continuing pastoral-theological mentors, or theological scholarship as Christian ministry.

Re-Forming Ministry will ensure continuous communication between groups in each cluster and regular communication among the clusters. A gathering of participants in the four clusters will take place in the fifth year of the program. The gathering will include assessment of the project, its impact in the church, and prospects for continued and expanded Re-Forming Ministry initiatives throughout the church.

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