Enhancement of Theological Leadership in the Presbyterian Church

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sun, 06/01/1997
End Date: 
Fri, 06/30/2000

The Presbyterian Church (USA) [PCUSA] through its Office of Theology and Worship [the Office] has striven to revive and strengthen the theological work of it pastoral leaders for the purpose of keeping the church relevant to persons in a changing cultural climate. The PCUSA believes theological study and reflection upon the core belief system of the church as well as its practices will enable its leaders to reintroduce persons to a church that is in danger of losing its significance. Such theological work is necessary to avoid subduing the truth of the gospel while modifying its previous articulation voiced through the mouth of the church. <p>Since 1993, the Office had sponsored annual pastor-theologian consultations, and with the advent of the Lilly grant the frequency increased to two or three consultations a year. The consultations were meetings not dependent on an outside facilitator; rather, the participants prepared their own presentations for group discussion that focused on basic theology and praxis in local ministries. In addition, as participation was nation-wide, new networks were formed among church leaders, allowing continued sharing of information and resources. Moreover, selected papers from the consultations, as well as other Office-sponsored events, have been published in “The Register”, a semi-annual journal available to those have joined “The Company of Pastors”, a more continuous outgrowth of the consultations. <p>As the Lilly grant provided for the hiring of a project manager (Charles Wiley) and an administrative assistant (Penny Franklin), Dr. John P. Burgess, former Associate for Theology, was freed to continue work on his book Why Scripture Matters. Furthermore, he traveled to Europe, visiting the ecumenical institute in Bossey, Switzerland and the Predigerseminar at Brandenburg, Germany, and examined the manner of theological training at these institutions for ideas to integrate into the Office’s initiatives.

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