April 18, 2011
The Rev. Cameron Trimble knows a promising trend when she sees one.
Following a recent announcement that UCC-related Andover Theological Seminary has formed a partnership with the Alban Institute to provide continuing education for clergy and laity, the Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR) will soon begin a similar collaboration with two other seminaries linked to the UCC – Chicago Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion.
The seminaries will roll out their CPR On Campus Program reNEW series titled "Skills for Leading New & Renewing Progressive Churches," with Trimble and the Rev. Michael Piazza, CPR co-executive directors, teaching the program.
The program is a one-week intensive, face-to-face study on the seminary campus. CTS will present it May 16-20; PSR, this summer. Three hours of seminary degree credit and four CEUs can be earned, and the program is available for audit.
"CPR is proud to partner with Chicago Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion to offer practical, skills-based training for seminary students and local church leaders in the areas around these schools," says Trimble. "This is part of a trend of seminaries connecting with non-profit, church-related organizations.
"These schools will be the sole provider of credit for CPR courses and will cross list our courses with theirs through our online learning platform," she says.
Trimble says the program was designed on the premise that the partners have similar priorities – "compelling vision, effective communication strategy, data management, community development, external mission and transformational worship."
Offering an on-site course in church planting and church renewal worth three hours of seminary credit is out-of-the-box, says Trimble. "This is pretty unusual in seminary," she says. "The topic is unique."
The other piece of the Pacific partnership calls for CPR to provide practical online courses for seminary students, taught by practitioners nationwide from seven mainline denominations. CEUs will also be offered for those courses.
"These courses are open to anyone who wants to take them," says Trimble. "We are providing a complementary offering, allowing seminaries to offer the theological grounding, and we're offering the technical training."
Seventy students have completed online course via CPR in 2011. Cost of the five-week, intensive online courses is $299, which includes free participation in separate webinar courses (a $9.95 value) during the five-week period. The one-hour webinar courses provide an overview of the online courses, says Trimble.
"We're trying to equip and support all pastors who want to renew their church through online education and coaching," says Trimble.
CPR has also updated its web site. It now features courses in church renewal and church planting for download and purchase. Live chat with coaches is available, as is registration for online courses and webinars. An online assessment is included for those interested in gauging whether they have the requisite skills to plant or renew a congregation.
"We deeply value our partnership with the Center for Progressive Renewal," says the Rev. Alice Hunt, president of Chicago Theological Seminary. "This course will introduce our students to the practical skills they need to be effective leaders in this age."
Trimble says CPR is on course to make similar collaborations with "at least three more seminaries" in 2012.
For further details please visit <progresiverenewal.org>.