Something neat happened to me earlier this month.  I was accepted to the 2009 Summer Collegium at Virginia Theological Seminary  in Alexandria Virginia.  This is an initiative of the Lilly Endowment in support of small congregations.  It’s a national and cross denominational program.  My wife gets to come with me.  And our expenses are covered!  Anyway, if you want to see the press release about this, you can read it below:

Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, is pleased to announce the participants for the 2009 Summer Collegium.  Over 130 applications were received from 17 denominations in 37 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces.  Applications were carefully screened and evaluated by a team of readers, and the top 25 were chosen for the 2009 Collegium.  These participants serve rural, small town, suburban and urban churches ranging in size from about twenty-five to ninety worshipers on an average Sunday.


The Summer Collegium is a project in support of small congregations funded by the “Making Connections” initiative of the Lilly Endowment Inc.  The generosity of the grant allows VTS to offer the Summer Collegium at no cost to participants.  The estimated cost for each clergy participant is over $15,000. 


Participants and their spouses/partners will spend nine days at VTS learning about and renewing their appreciation for the small church by attending workshops led by small church experts.  There will be numerous opportunities for worship and renewal.  The project is fully ecumenical, with faculty drawn from a wide variety of denominations.  The keynote speaker for the 2009 Summer Collegium is the Rev. Dr. Anthony G. Pappas, an American Baptist who has written extensively on life in the small church.  The theme for the 2009 Collegium is Body, Mind, and Spirit:  Celebrating, Strengthening and Sustaining Clergy Wholeness in Small Congregations.  We will specifically look at the areas of spiritual, physical, financial, and vocational wellness, and healthy ways to deal with conflict.


An important part of the Summer Collegium is its emphasis on the arts as an exciting way to express faith in churches, large or small.  We will have a musician-in-residence for the conference; the Rev. Dr. William Roberts.  The Summer Collegium will host a one-day Small Church Religious Arts Festival on Saturday, June 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., open to the public, to celebrate storytelling and the wide variety of arts and crafts in small congregations. 


Participants will read assigned texts and work with their congregations in preparation for their time at Virginia Seminary from June 24 – July 2, and will do a follow-up project after they leave Alexandria.  Project Manager Marilyn Johns, D.Min. and Project Director the Rev. Roger A. Ferlo, Ph.D. anticipate a visit to each of the congregations in the coming year.


The Summer Collegium began in 2006 and will continue through the summer of 2010, with a different group of 25 pastors each summer.  Further information can be found on our website,, or by calling 703-461-1760.  Applications for the 2010 Summer Collegium will be available on September 1, 2009.


Participants in the 2009 Summer Collegium are:

  • Pastor Michael Blaker and Jana Synatschk; St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church By-the-Sea; Jacksonville Beach, Florida
  • The Rev. Dr. Ann E. Bolson and Steven A. Bolson; Wild Rose Congregational Church; UCC, Evergreen, Colorado
  • The Rev. Stephen Croft and Anne T. MacDougall-Croft; Christ Church; Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia
  • The Rev. Dr. Karen Downey Beals; Springville Presbyterian Church and Linn Grove Presbyterian Church; Springville, Iowa
  • The Rev. Wendy Downing; Fisk Presbyterian Church; Fisk, Missouri, and the Rev. John Goodwin; Hunter Memorial Presbyterian Church; Sikeston, Missouri
  • The Rev. Caroline E. Engelbrecht; Ascension Lutheran Church; Goose Lake, Iowa
  • The Rev. David Giuliano and Pearl Elizabeth Giuliano; St. John’s United Church of Canada; Marathon, Ontario
  • The Rev. Frank G. Graichen, Jr. and Sandra Graichen; Trinity United Church of Christ; Rome, New York
  • The Rev. Cynthia Hallas and A. Jon Hallas, St. Giles Episcopal Church; Northbrook, Illinois
  • The Rev. Jerrod H. Hugenot and Kerry A. Shermer; The First Baptist Church; Bennington, Vermont
  • The Rev. Chérie L. Isakson; Shalimar Presbyterian Church; Shalimar, Florida
  • The Rev. Karen Joy Kelly; St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; Altavista, Virginia
  • Pastor JungJa Lee and Doug Haynes; University United Methodist Church; Madison, Wisconsin
  • The Rev. Gary Liker and Brenda Liker; Ellendale United Methodist Church and Geneva United Methodist Church; Ellendale, Minnesota
  • The Rev. Joan MacPherson; Main Street Congregational Untied Church of Christ; Amesbury, Massachusetts
  • The Rev. John Mangels and Anne Mangels; St. George’s Episcopal Church; Carmichael, California
  • The Rev. Tamara Miller and Terry Miller; Linwood United Church; Kansas City, Missouri
  • The Rev. Peter J. Mills and Patricia E. Mills; St. John’s Anglican Church, Ida, and Christ Anglican Church, Omemee; Millbrook, Ontario
  • Pastor Mary C. Olney-Loyd and Gary Loyd; First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Olympia, Washington
  • The Rev. Paula E. Roulette; Bethel Lutheran Church; Portville, New York
  • The Rev. Karl Shadley and Myrna Shadley; Calvary Presbyterian Church; Berkeley, California
  • The Rev. Mickael Stephens; Christian Life Missionary Baptist Church; Goldsboro, North Carolina
  • The Rev. Brenda Griffin Warren and Harvey L. Warren, III; First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Beaumont, Texas
  • The Rev. Susan Wilson and Michael Wilson; St. Paul’s Anglican Church; Shelburne, Ontario
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Winslea and the Rev. Timothy Winslea; Lincoln Street United Methodist Church and Sunnyside United Methodist Church; Portland, Oregon