National. Ecumenical. Longitudinal.

A study of ministry in the U.S.

Learning Pastoral Imagination: A Five-Year Report on How New Ministers Learn in Practice.

To lead with courage and pastoral wisdom in the twenty-first century requires ministers to make a transition from simply imagining ministry to embodying pastoral imagination. For 25 years, Auburn Studies have been the gold standard in research on theological education in the United States. In this newest Auburn Studies Report, we release six key findings from a study of learning ministry in practice and their implications for theological education.

Welcome to Learning Pastoral Imagination.

Begun in 2009, the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project is a National, ecumenical, longitudinal study of ministry in the United States. The qualitative study follows the lives and ministries of seminary and divinity school graduates from ten schools across the U.S.

Thank you for learning with us!

Understanding the practice of ministry.

LPI Project Directors

  • LPI Co-Director, Eileen Campbell-Reed: Visiting Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Eileen is also founder and host of Three Minute Ministry Mentor, a weekly video, blog and podcast providing resources that inform and inspire the practice of ministry, and author of Pastoral Imagination: Bringing the Practice of Ministry to Life (Fortress, 2021), which explores how ministry is cultivated across time, through embodiment and relationships, and in encounters with the holy.
  • LPI Co-Director, Christian Scharen: A practical theologian and pastor at St. Lydia’s Dinner Church in Brooklyn, NY, Scharen was ordained a pastor in the ELCA in 2001. He holds the Ph.D. in religion from Emory University. His most recent book, Someone Has To Care: The Roots and Hip-Hop’s Prophetic Calling focuses on the Roots (of Tonight Show fame).
  • LPI Associate Director, Catrina Ciccone: She stewards the contextual learning components of the MDivX Project at Luther Seminary, a contextually-embedded, accelerated pathway to an MDiv. She delights in supporting both students and supervisors in their learning. Catrina’s doctoral dissertation is a theological ethnography exploring resurrection among three congregations in St. Paul, each birthed in response to the deep woundedness the white Christendom Church has inflicted upon its own people.