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, people who serve as priests, pastors, chaplains, congregational ministers, educators, and volunteers. The denominational connections range from Roman Catholic and Orthodox to Pentecostal and Evangelical, Mainline, Peace church, historic Black Church, and 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 blog, podcast and videos.

In January 2021, the Louisville Institute granted continuing research funds for the LPR project. Over the next two years participants in the study will be interviewed around the time they have been graduated from seminary for 10 years. This is a significant point in their developmental journeys and also will be an opportunity to collect stories of how ministers in many settings navigated the twin pandemics Of COVID-19 and systematic racism both of which changed and redefined the landscape of ministry And life in 2020-21.

To learn more about the study visit our research page, order the Pastoral Imagination book, and download the Five-Year Learning Pastoral Imagination report today.

LPI Co-Director Eileen Campbell-Reed is visiting associate professor Pastoral Theology edited at Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York. She makes her home in Nashville Tennessee. She also coaches academic writers and is founder and host of Three Minute Ministry Mentor. She is author of Anatomy of a Schism (2016), the State of Clergywomen in the U.S. (2018) and and the #PandemicPastoring Report (2022).

LPI Co-Director Christian Scharen is currently pastor of Saint Lydia’s Dinner Church in Brooklyn New York. He’s author of many books including Fieldwork in Theology and the newest, Someone Has to Care (2022). He teaches occasionally at United Seminary of the Twin Cities.

LPI associate director Catrina Ciccone is the Contextual Learning Coordinator for the MDivX Project. She is contributing to the new MDivX program accelerated program for ministers. Catrina’s doctoral dissertation is a study of three congregations…

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. The following bibliography and links provide connections to the published work on the findings and insights of the LPI Project.