Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary initiated “Connecting the Seminary and Congregations” program under the auspices of this grant. The seminary developed the program in two main components: Congregational Teaching and Research, and Church Relations. Congregational Teaching and Research developed clusters of teaching parishes and support for congregational studies research. The majority of teaching parishes – local congregations – belonged to the United Methodist Church and each hosted seminary students supervised by the pastor of the teaching parish. The program involved structured and extensive interaction between the seminary student and the laity of the teaching parish.
As part of the program, the seminary established the position of Director of Church Relations to enhance relationships with constituent congregations, mainly in the United Methodist constituency, with a view to initiating conversations with congregations and establishing structures to facilitate the identification of future congregational leaders.