Through its New Pathways Initiative, Emory’s Candler School of Theology seeks to develop partnerships with churches in and beyond Atlanta to support congregations in implementing new pathways of theological exploration, community engagement, and collaborative leadership. This initiative is situated within The Candler Foundry, a major endeavor at Candler that aims to cultivate learning, discipleship, and innovative ministry practices within a diverse range of congregations. Drawing on best practices in community-based learning and insights gleaned from our extensive discussions with congregational leaders, the New Pathways Initiative fosters congregational vitality through three interrelated components: (1) Courses in the Community, congregation-based cohorts of learning and practice that bring together lay people, clergy, and theology students to explore the shifting landscape of the church and society and to respond to these trends through adaptive ministry practices; (2) TheoEd Talks, a faith-based speaker series that creates forums for congregations to engage their communities in ways designed to attract those who have left the church or have no religious affiliation; and (3) Leadership Collaboratives, in which networks of clergy and lay leaders are brought together to exchange ideas about ministry innovations and challenges. Each of the components of the initiative will help congregations better understand shifting social and cultural trends, clarify their values, priorities, and mission in light of those understandings, and adapt ministry practices in response to the needs of the communities they serve.
New Pathways Initiative: Fostering Thriving Congregations through Theological Educational Exploration, Community Engagement and Collaborative Leadership