Leadership in the New Parish is designed to embolden pastors, lay leaders, churchgoers, theologians, entrepreneurs, community developers, and place-makers with a heart for reimagining church and transforming neighborhoods.

Leadership in the New Parish is a collaborative, imaginative, transformative program co-created by The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and the Parish Collective. Curated by Dr. Dwight Friesen, Paul Sparks, and Tim Soerens, Leadership in the New Parish is a practitioner think-tank that equips leaders to boldly follow God into their neighborhoods and listen well to God’s desire for shalom by engaging the intersection of God’s story, their personal stories, and the stories of their unique neighborhood contexts.

Developing Faithful Presence

At the core of the New Parish paradigm is the belief that change and shalom happens through faithful presence. Leadership in the New Parish’s innovative, think-tank model fosters collaborative dialogue, entrepreneurial imagination, and narrative awareness that creates space for deep formation for you as a person and as a practitioner of place. Each immerse weekend experience is oriented around these liturgical values and rhythms:  

As leaders and practitioners, it’s rare to find space to truly reflect on who we are and the ways in which our unique stories shape our presence, relationships, and practices. During each weekend intensive participants are invited to engage a particular story in a small group contexts. These intimate, leadership clusters allow participants to deepen vulnerability and discover the ways  your story matters to your community and how it can become a tool for understanding styles of relating and navigating leadership blocks.  

Practice in Place
During this program, your parish is your primary locus for organic experimentation and theological reflection, supported by generative readings and ongoing discussions with your cohort. The curriculum is designed to invite you to rediscover the beauty and potential of your particular place. Each cohort experience is intentionally curated to be relational, collaborative, creative — reshaping your life and your neighborhood practices through real-time reflection. Participants will develop local practices as they reflect on their neighborhood with prayerful curiosity for their place, its people, and God’s desire for shalom.

Community of Practice
Leadership in the New Parish is a cohort of on the ground practitioners led by practitioner-faculty. Our collaborative, think-tank model and small group leadership clusters provides space to dream about incarnational work rooted in particular people in a particular place alongside a particular God. Our co-learning model is rooted in the belief that traditional, hierarchical education is not helpful for the new parish model. Instead, we believe that the imaginative ideas of scholars and the grounded discoveries of practitioners can enrich one another as they participate in God’s kingdom breaking forth in our neighborhoods.

Immersive Neighborhood Experiences
A hallmark of practicing faithful presence in place in the New Parish paradigm is walking. During the Leadership in the New Parish certificate program you will have the privilege of walking and listening to a number of diverse parish expressions in the Pacific Northwest region. These neighborhoods range from urban to suburban to rural and represent a diverse demographic and socio-economic realities. Deep learning and generative dialogue emerges place through these hands-on, fun field visits in communities with like-minded pioneers imagining the way of Jesus in their unique contexts.

The Leadership in the New Parish is a hybrid program designed for an intimate cohort of practitioners converging over four intensive Wednesday-Saturday sessions in Seattle, WA.

2016-17 Cohort Dates
October 12-15, 2016
January 11-14, 2017
April 26-29, 2017
June 14-17, 2017

Leadership in the New Parish is an invitation to audacity — to believe that the Gospel is transformative today and that God’s Spirit is at work in the particularity and uniqueness of ourselves and our neighborhoods.

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Costs & Financial Support

The leadership of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology continues to affirm our commitment to theological education and formation. We believe this is a critical time into invest in leaders who practicing presence and stewarding shalom at the neighborhood level.

Leadership in the New Parish is intentional, experiential, and intensive. The actual cost per student is $3,950.Participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging in Seattle, WA. Payment plans are available and allow participants to divide the total cost of attendance into 2 or 4 installments.

We believe the impact of this program on participants and the communities they serve is well worth the investment, but also we understand that for those without denominational support or continuing education funding, the cost may be a barrier.

We believe in the new parish and toward the end of making training for new parish practitioners more accessible we are committing funds in this new academic year to endow the Leadership in the New Parish certificate program with a “pay what you can” model. This endowment allows us to grant additional scholarship funding to candidates who are have financial or other barriers impacting their accessibility to this training. These funds range from $500 to $2,000 and serve to reduce the program cost to $3,450 and $1,850. To inquire about this funding, please email admissions@theseattleschool.edu

Application Process

The Leadership in the New Parish admissions process is intentionally designed to offer you a taste of the experiential and relational nature of this program, while providing us with an opportunity to get to know more of you and your neighborhood context. To facilitate the uniquely experiential and formative ethos of this program, the Leadership in the New Parish certificate is designed for an intimate cohort of practitioners, thus seats are limited.

The Seattle School is receiving applications for our 2016 cohort beginning in October. If you’re considering joining us this fall, now is the time to apply! If you’d like to connect about Leadership in the New Parish or if you have questions, we’d love to speak with you. Send an email to admissions@theseattleschool.edu and we will follow up with you personally.

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Meet the Leadership Team

Core Faculty

dwight friesen

Dr. Dwight Friesen
Dwight brings more than a dozen years of missional pastoral experience to The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology where he teaches missional, contextual, and pastoral theology. He was the community-curate of an Eastside emerging simple church for more than eleven years; he was ordained by the Christian & Missionary Alliance until surrendering those credentials in solidarity with women seeking ordination. He is a liturgical Anabaptist with progressively Evangelical and emergent sensibilities actively seeking to root his faith practice within place while linking globally with others who are seeking to live into their contexts. Dwight lives on the eastside of Seattle with his wife, Lynette, and their son, Pascal.

PaulSparks-2Paul Sparks
Paul Sparks is one of the leading voices in the growing parish movement. As co-founder of the Parish Collective (a global network for connecting local church expressions) he has done parish tours and trainings in over 700 neighborhoods around the world. Paul is a leadership instructor at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and is the co-author of the award-winning book The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, and Community. Paul has 25 years experience as an ordained pastor and 15 years as a community organizer. He and his co-conspiring partner Elizabeth Sparks live in a Catholic Worker Community in downtown, Tacoma, WA.

tim soerensTim Soerens
Tim Soerens is an author, speaker, social entrepreneur, and co-founding director of the Parish Collective. As co-director of the Parish Collective he convenes ministry leaders, teaches, and consults with organizations seeking human flourishing in particular neighborhoods while also working collaboratively across the city. He is the co-author of The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, and Community. Tim is the co-founding producer of the annual Inhabit Conference and New Parish Conference UK, curator for place-based innovation for Social Capital Markets, co-founder of Neighborhood Economics, and founding adviser of Impact Hub Seattle. He lives in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle with his wife Maria-Jose and their son Lukas.