About The Discipleship Project

In the fall semester of 2012, CTS began offering 12 scholarships for full-time, residential M.Div. students, including tuition and a $12,000 annual stipend. In addition to their regular M.Div. coursework, each year’s cohort of scholars will meet regularly with two faculty mentors, engage outstanding community leaders, and visit vibrant congregations. Read on or apply now.

Intentional community and spiritual formation

The Discipleship Project is in part a response to the renaissance of interest across the country today in both new and traditional forms of intentional community and spiritual formation. “Christian ministry is a relational, community-based adventure,” said Scott Seay, CTS faculty member and interim director of The Discipleship Project. “And so we believe the most promising education for ministry will be likewise grounded in community life: concrete acts of love and justice on the one hand, and holistic formation through challenging spiritual practices – prayer, worship, scriptural study, and so on – on the other.”

But if the biblical and formational dimensions of the new program are fundamental to its design, so is its financial dimension. “We aim to recruit the most promising students in the country, and we don’t want financial means or student debt to hinder them as they follow God’s call,” said Boulton. “Again, our inspiration here is the early Christian movement: we want to help build a local and global network of excellence in ministry, all for the sake of God’s emerging realm of love and justice – what Jesus called ‘the kingdom of God.’”

Which degree programs are eligible?

For the program's initial phase, M.Div. degree applicants are eligible to participate. However, one of the key questions the CTS faculty will be exploring over the months and semesters ahead is whether the program can eventually be expanded to include other degree programs as well.

What is included in a Discipleship Project scholarship?

A Discipleship Project scholarship includes tuition; a stipend ($12K) for use on housing, books, and other living expenses; and participation in the experiential pedagogy outlined above. Each cohort of up to twelve scholars will meet as a group regularly with two faculty mentors, building relationships with colleagues that will last a lifetime—and meeting with community leaders, virtuoso practitioners, and other invited guests. Along the way, each cohort will collaboratively design a “rule of life”: a challenging set of spiritual practices, selected by the cohort itself with guidance from their faculty mentors, for engaging their ongoing process of spiritual formation. Once per semester, the cohort and mentors will go on an intensive, immersive site visit to a vibrant, excellent congregation: meeting with pastoral and lay leadership, attending worship and staff meetings, experiencing community ministries, and so on. And what’s more, for the two years following graduation, CTS will support the cohort in staying connected through online networks and periodic reunions.

Second cohort of TDPers announced

Oct 14, 2013 | The Discipleship Project


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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