Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

December 1, 2004

New Whitworth Program Builds Cultural Bridges
among Community Churches

The Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning at Whitworth College is building bridges between theological traditions, Christian denominations and the black and white communities in Spokane through the center's new Certificate in Urban Congregational Ministry Program, which was launched in October.

"This program is needed in Spokane because of changing demographics, limited resources, and growing homelessness and poverty in the Spokane area," says Tim Dolan Ph.D., assistant director of the Weyerhaeuser Center. "All of these factors make ministry increasingly complex and challenging, especially in an urban context. Given the magnitude of the needs facing our urban community, it is important that churches of all denominations and races work together."

The program is being facilitated by Dolan and Peter Dual, Ph.D., Whitworth's interim director of development for special projects, and will be taught by Whitworth College faculty and other Christian leaders from the community.

Part of the program's purpose is "to prepare urban leaders who are motivated by a God-centered worldview and who are equipped to bring transformation to their churches, neighborhoods, and the city of Spokane," Dolan says.

Six congregations representing different denominations and locations in Spokane are participating in the pilot program. They are: Calvary Baptist, Westminster Congregational, Central Lutheran, First Presbyterian, Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal.

One pastor and three key laypersons from each congregation meet downtown one Saturday a month, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., on a rotating basis among several of the participating churches.

"We wanted a good balance of black and white churches, male and female pastors, and diverse denominations and theological traditions," Dolan says. "We hope this program will continue to build upon the solid foundation that has already been laid between Whitworth College and local urban church leaders."

The October and November sessions focused on leading the church in the city. Both sessions were led by James Noel, Ph.D., associate professor and H. Eugene Farlough Chair in African-American Christianity, San Francisco Theological Seminary.

During the Dec. 11 session, participants will discuss communication, including conflict-management with individuals and group strategies for increasing communication in the congregation and community. The group will be led by Ron Pyle, Ph.D., associate professor of communication studies at Whitworth. The session will take place at Calvary Baptist Church from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Upcoming sessions will address the topics of stewardship, planning and advancement; planning for the future; management and administration; growing church congregations; and maintaining balance in ministry.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Tim Dolan, assistant director of the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4676 or tdolan@whitworth.edu.

Peter Dual, interim director of development for special projects, Whitworth College, (509) 555-1515 or pad46@msn.net.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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