The Northern Piedmont District of The Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church was the launch site for the first cohort of Neighborhood Seminary. Seventeen persons began in 2017, and all 17 received certificates of completion on April 6, 2019. The cohort met at Christ UMC in Greensboro.
The closing presentations by those receiving certificates of completion were modeled as "Ted Talk"/Homilies in which participants answered the question: “Who is My Neighbor?” Each person uniquely, creatively and inspirationally shared stories of personal transformation through Neighborhood Seminary. Poignantly and innovatively, each offered insights about current discernments of where and how God is calling them to be missionally engaged in their neighborhoods, “walking in our calling,” as one person noted. This cohort noted personal transformation and deeper connections to God and neighbors in the first year.
Participants will become a part of the High Point Year Two Cohort in September 2019.
Ninety percent of Year One participants from both Northern Piedmont and Yadkin Valley cohorts are returning for Year Two starting in September. Those unable to return have encountered school or work schedule challenges. This rate of retention is worth noting as Neighborhood Seminary moves from pilot phase to full program launch, expanding with cohorts in Western North Carolina and in Virginia for 2019-2020, and more widely in fall of 2020.
Most importantly, persons in the first cohort began asking for a third year before they’d completed the first year of Neighborhood Seminary. As “graduates,” many are engaged in volunteering gifts, time and expertise, as well as providing financial support, working to ensure others have an opportunity for an experience like the one that changed their lives.