by Rev. Ginnie Ferrell and Dr. Marian R. Plant
PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc. was fortunate to have Rev. Char Burch, Transitional Conference Minister for the SEC UCC, lead a September day-long retreat for the PATHWAYS Board of Directors at First Congregational Church, UCC, Atlanta, GA. It was a day when creative juices flowed as Char helped us stay on track with identifying our assets and energies which we can invest in the work of PATHWAYS. She helped us to articulate our goals for the next year as we fleshed out innovative ways to reach out to new participants.
PATHWAYS, an affiliating online theological education program of the Southeast Conference provides a solid education program that is available to churchgoers as well as the unchurched, for ministry preparation as well as continuing education, for progressive explorers as well as people deepening their faith. Now PATHWAYS is expanding to see and be seen by potential participants and course creators from the edges of the Christian community where the progressive festivals and conferences nourish progressive Christians, the spiritual-not-religious, and people seeking spiritual renewal. We are building a sustainable yet nimble theological program that can maintain its core courses and bring new, relevant courses into being within a few months.
PATHWAYS became a separate nonprofit from the Southeast Conference in 2018 receiving its IRS 501c3 status this past Spring 2019. PATHWAYS has expanded nationally and continues to pursue ways to reach new participants throughout the United States and internationally. The Board of Directors and the Advisory Council (PAC) members are from around the United States and from the UCC and beyond. This year’s retreat included the Board and two local Advisory Council members: The Rev. Dr. Marian R. Plant from OH, President; The Rev. Ginnie Ferrell from GA, Vice President; Rev. Marsha Brown from TN, Treasurer; The Rev. Dr. Ruth Shaver from ME, Secretary; Dr. Mike Clawson from TX, Board Member; Professor Debbie Richard from IN, Board Member; The Rev. Dr. Salome as-Salaam from GA, PAC Member, Rev. Elizabeth Clement from GA, PAC Member.
During that first year as a GA non-profit, we increased the PATHWAYS staff from one to two positions. While Rev. Valerie Coe Lowder graciously stayed on as our Interim Administrator, she rolled through various versions of job descriptions and tasks as we began to sort out our staffing needs. For that, the entire Board of Directors and Advisory Council are very grateful. Valerie gave us a consistent, helpful presence as an administrator whose duties of Registrar and sometimes part Director was a moving target from July 2017 through August 2019.
Into our second year, we hired Rochelle Lofstrand as our Acting Executive Director. As we moved through this second year, 2018-2019, Rochelle took the reins: creating a new website, scheduling courses and finding facilitators, working with course writers to bring us new topics and core courses, implementing a social media marketing schedule to get PATHWAYS in front of a wider audience, and executing a two-part print marketing plan to four UCC conferences (500 envelopes each time) with lay education as the centerpiece of the mailings.
PATHWAYS Theological Education Inc. is delighted that the Southeast Conference UCC received a $50,000 grant from The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation this summer for the continuing support with PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc. We are grateful for the ongoing relationship that PATHWAYS has with the Southeast Conference and your willingness to contract with PATHWAYS as an affiliate conference. PATHWAYS continues to give Southeast Conference UCC participants $50 off the cost of any 6-week or longer course.
To discover more about PATHWAYS THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION, Inc. go to https://www.pathwaystheological.org/ where you can see current course listings and sign up for the PATHWAYS newsletter.