Second cohort of TDPers announced

Oct 14, 2013 | The Discipleship Project

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Christian Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the second cohort of students selected for The Discipleship Project, a groundbreaking experiment in theological education at CTS. All in their first year of the M.Div. degree program, these new “TDPers” hail from states as far away as California, Florida, and Colorado, as well as Indiana. While several are members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), others participate in Roman Catholic, Mennonite, and Pentecostal communities, and all seem to be eager to join in the new experience at CTS.

The Discipleship Project at Christian Theological Seminary kicked off its second year with a retreat at St. Meinrad’s Retreat Center in southern Indiana, August 29 and 30, 2013. Both the first and the newly selected second cohort participated in activities intended to help the groups build and strengthen their sense of community.

After a three-hour van ride in close quarters, the TDPers unloaded into the beautiful, serene setting of St. Meinrad’s, a Benedictine Monastery. They shared meals, stories, prayers, and singing. The new cohort learned about the program and about each other, while the first cohort processed their first year’s experience together. The groups also heard from Ron Knott about the revitalization of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, KY, which he led some years ago. The students were impressed with the story of the Cathedral’s turn around in downtown Louisville and appreciated hearing from a ministry practitioner with a truly compelling story to share. Faculty mentor Ron Sommerville shared the devotional book, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, two leaders in the new monasticism movement. The cohorts will use the resource throughout the year to guide their common spiritual practices.

The highlight of the retreat, however, may have been the marathon game of “catch-phrase” played from rocking chairs and pillows in the Center’s lobby. The gentle shouting and raucous laughter told the real story of how communities are most deeply formed.

The students selected to participate in the second cohort of The Discipleship Project beginning in the Fall of 2013 are Joshua Brainard, from Colorado; Abigail Harper, Disciples, from Virginia; Ashley Hyre, Roman Catholic, from Indiana; Ian James, Disciples, from Indiana; Heath Jones, Disciples, from Indiana; Nathan Kibler, Disciples, from Indiana; Juliette Roll, Pentecostal, from California; Richie Sanchez, Disciples, from Florida; and Reuben Sancken, Mennonite, from Indiana. The faculty mentors for this new cohort are Suzanne Coyle, who teaches pastoral theology and marriage and family therapy and directs CTS’ Counseling Center, and Ron Sommerville, who teaches church history.

The project places up to 12 incoming full-time residential M.Div. students into one cohort for spiritual growth, contextual ministry learning, and community formation. In addition to completing the M.Div. curriculum, TPDers meet with faculty mentors, as well as local church and community leaders, for an immersive experience in academic preparation, spiritual formation, community outreach, and church ministry.

Carol Johnston, who teaches theology and culture and is the Director of Lifelong Theological Education at CTS, is the new Interim Director of TDP.

After one year of the program, the seminary community has experienced the benefit of having a core of students committed to community life in their midst. From chapel to café, the TDPers are an encouraging and grounding presence in the seminary.

Faculty mentors for the first cohort are Bill Kincaid, who is the director of field education at CTS and teaches Christian ministry, and Wilma Bailey, who teaches Hebrew Bible and biblical languages. The members of that cohort include Annettia Brookes-Rankin, Baptist, from Indiana; Daniel Dempsey, UCC, from Indiana; Elizabeth Diop, Disciples, from Kentucky; Michael Dodds, Disciples, from Indiana; Sarah Frische-Mouri, UCC, from Indiana; Nick Green, Disciples, from Idaho; Eddie Journey, Baptist, from Indiana; Maggie May, Disciples, from North Carolina; Paula Niebert, Disciples, from Indiana; and Faith Peterson, non-denominational, from Georgia.

Visit our People page for more information about the TDPers and the mentors, and see our About page for more information about the program.

The image in this article is of several of the members of the second TDP cohort and was taken by Ian James during the 2013 TDP retreat. For more photos from the retreat, please see the Facebook photo album.

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