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 graduates from ten schools across the US. The cohort consists of an equal number of men and women. Ministers in the study include people who serve as priests, pastors, chaplains, congregational ministers, educators, and ministry volunteers. The denominational connections range from Roman Catholic and Orthodox to Pentecostal and Evangelical, Mainline, Peace Church, historic Black Church, as well as non-denominational. Participants in the study embrace a range of racial and ethnic identities, including white, Black, Asian American, and Latinx.
The latest findings and case studies from the research are in Eileen Campbell-Reed’s new book Pastoral The Imagination: Bringing The Practice a Ministry to Life (Fortress, 2021). Stories and concepts from the study can also be found in Season One of Three Minute Ministry Mentor in the form of blogs, podcasts and videos.
During the first five years of the study, Eileen Campbell-Reed and Chris Scharen co-authored four articles, and a major report about the project. Each publication addresses particularities of the study, and the project is also addressed in a variety of other book chapters and articles by both authors.
“‘Holy cow! This stuff is Real!’ From Imagining Ministry to Pastoral Imagination”
“Holy cow!” was the first article that came out of the LPI project. It captured the birth of pastoral imagination, something we were seeing an interview after interview with recently graduated or soon-to-graduate Seminarians. Chris and Eileen presented the material first in a session of the practical theology unit at AAR meeting in 2010.
It was published in an issue of the Wabash journal Teaching Theology and Religion which featured other articles about how ministers learn including an article by our friend, colleague and project advisor, Kathleen Cahalan, “Reframing Knowing, Being, and Doing in the Seminary Classroom.”