Sewanee programs center welcomes new leadership

March 19, 2013

[Sewanee, School of Theology — Press Release]  The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of The School of Theology, has appointed Dr. Courtney Cowart as associate dean and director of the School’s programs center. James Goodmann has been appointed the center’s associate director. These appointments were effective March 1, 2013.

Building on the success of the programs center’s international Education for Ministry (EfM) program, Cowart will lead an expansion that envisions a new role for the center as the nexus of collaborative learning and creativity for an increasingly diverse body of participants from all parts of the Church.

Alexander explains, “While we celebrate the many achievements of the programs center and EfM in the past, we believe there is great potential for the programs center to reach more people, and, importantly, to reach groups the church as a whole has been less successful in reaching. As America grows more diverse (and as it grows younger) a revitalization of the programs center will help The School of Theology, The Episcopal Church, and the broader Christian church in America.”

Cowart and Goodmann are co-creators of VocationCARE, a vocational discernment and ministry design process, initiated through support of The Fund for Theological Education. They will work closely with EfM Director Karen Meridith and the EfM staff to integrate VocationCARE and other new programs into the center’s operations. “In the spirit of our collaborative work with the Kaleidoscope Institute and the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino ministries, EfM looks forward to exploring new opportunities for partnerships that will come with this new venture,” says Meridith.

Goodmann shares, “The experience of both VocationCARE and EfM anticipates the work of a renewed programs center. Both of these ways of practice serve those moving into deeper forms of discipleship. Mutual engagement of both VocationCARE and EfM promises to attract other programs with a similar inspiration and this, we believe, will amplify gifted voices needed by the larger church.”

Several new initiatives are in development for the expanding programs center, as the center’s staff casts a wide net to engage developers of other promising programs as potential future offerings of the center. Two initiatives are already underway.

“With a recent grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, EfM is embarking on the development of a Latino/Hispanic version of the EfM curriculum,” states Cowart. “Additionally, the new Episcopal Service Corps–Sewanee (ESC) will begin in August of 2013, under the direction of Michael Trent Thompson. This is the latest addition to an expanding network of 30 ESC programs flourishing in many locations throughout the church.”

Cowart is a scholar in the fields of ascetical theology and American Church history (Th.D., The General Theological Seminary, 2001) that has identified, supported, and developed outstanding programs of the church for 15 years. Her new position draws on her background as a theological educator and her programmatic experience with Trinity Grants in New York, as co-director of the Office of Disaster Response in New Orleans post-Katrina, and as director of congregational learning for The Fund for Theological Education. Cowart’s book, An American Awakening: From 9/11 to Katrina the People We Are Free To Bepublished in 2008, chronicles her work following September 11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Goodmann earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto (St Michael’s College) and his M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School. He has 20 years of experience in working with young people in vocational discernment and with institutions that support that discernment (campus ministries, universities, nonprofit grants work). Goodmann has served as director of congregational grants at the Fund for Theological Education in Atlanta, Ga. Prior to that, he served as program director for the Lilly Endowment-funded Theological Exploration of Vocation at Sewanee, with a focus on working with undergraduates in vocational discernment.

The School of Theology, an accredited Episcopal seminary, offers study within three divisions: degree programs, extension programs, and continuing education programs. Sewanee is one of two Episcopal seminaries that is embedded in a larger university having a college and other graduate programs. The School of Theology has continued to define its role as a premier residential seminary in The Episcopal Church with an expanded programs center as a resource to the Church.