“This is the REAL deal!” declared one young adult, speaking of the difference between expectations of “just another “program in a box,” and first-class lectures and course content with Dr. Elaine Heath.
“My perspective on what it means for persons to live in poverty is forever changed,” reflected another after participating in a poverty simulation exercise. “I’ve long been involved with mission trips and hands-on ministries, but even artificially standing in the shoes of someone caught in systemic poverty opened my eyes to things I never knew before about life on the other side of a mission team.”
“While on a retreat, and I kept returning in my mind to the image of an icon of the Holy Trinity we’d used in Spiritual Formation, and it brought a real sense of God’s presence.”
In the first year, core components: collaborative theological education, spiritual formation and missional engagement were identified by participants as impacting their lives in ways both profoundly personal and transformational. The cohort was hosted by Mount Tabor United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem.
For 2019-2020, Yadkin Valley and Northern Piedmont Year One groups will join to form the High Point Year Two cohort, and will meet on the campus of High Point University beginning in September.
Ninety percent of Year One participants, from both Northern Piedmont and Yadkin Valley cohorts, are returning for Year Two starting. 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 even 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.