Jan. 2, 2009
United Methodist Reporter
The Rev. Janet Forbes had been senior pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo., for only a few months when she decided it was time to go back to seminary. “St. Luke’s drove me to it,” she says of the congregation with its high percentage of young people. So last spring, she graduated with a doctorate from Drew Theological School. Her thesis was on postmodern Christianity. Now Dr. Forbes uses what she learned to minister to her flock at St. Luke’s, where the average age is 32, and only a minority of them are lifelong United Methodists. They worship alongside seekers, new Christians and interfaith families. Bonding happens in mission teams and classes like Gap Group, where members talk about their diverse spiritual beliefs and share stories of their faith journeys.
“We’re an organic community in which relationship is the tie that binds, not doctrine,” Dr. Forbes said. “The more you build relationship across difference, the more difference becomes OK.
“My experience in the D. Min. program has changed my ministry and my life. The diverse makeup of my class truly educated me as to the variety of cultures, personalities, and demeanor of over 50 different ministries.”
“It was a wonderful growing experience that has launched me forward in a positive way for the last half of my career.”
“I am more focused on leading effectively and more confident in my ability to navigate in the 21st century waters. I am better at working out of my strengths.”
“It was a very productive three years.”
“It has changed my life. I am much more healthy emotionally. Now that I know what “healthy” looks like. I am more likely to be a “non-anxious presence” and to promote the “health” of the congregation.”
“It was a positive growth engendering experience for me.”
“I experienced tremendous personal growth, both intellectually and spiritually, while at Drew.”
“I learned to love, trust, participate in joys, laughter and struggles with the Hispanic D. Min. colleagues that continues to this day.”