Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2014-01-15


The authors of two new books on pastoral leadership and renewal will lead a seminar sponsored by Samford University's Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence (RCPE) on Monday, Feb. 3.

The "Meet the Authors" program will feature writers Penny Marler and Larry Dill, co-authors of So Much Better: How Thousands of Pastors Help Each Other Thrive; and Sarah Shelton and Chris Hamlin, co-authors of The Teaching Church: Congregation as Mentor.

Marler and Dill will discuss insights based on research and work with 2,000 members of clergy peer groups that were organized under a Lilly Endowment initiative.   Marler, a longtime Samford religion professor, is a noted researcher on church-related topics. Dill is executive director of the Institute for Clergy Excellence, a Huntsville-based pastoral training and consulting initiative.

Shelton and Hamlin will share insights on the role that congregations play in shaping pastoral ministers.  Their book is based on 81 interviews with male and female clergy and other representatives of seven denominations. Shelton is pastor of the Baptist Church of the Covenant and Hamlin is pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, both in Birmingham.

"These two books represent hundreds of hours of conversation and research," said RCPE program director Michael Wilson.  "The stories and real-world examples reveal surprising insights about how pastoral ministers become effective in their roles and stay effective over the long term."

The authors will discuss their topics in an informal setting with time for questions and dialogue with the audience. The event will begin at 9 a.m. in the Howard Room, located in Samford's Beeson University Center, and will conclude at noon with lunch in the Samford cafeteria.

The program and lunch are free of charge. Reservations are requested by January 31. For more information or to register, check the website at or call (205) 726-4064.   The featured books will be available for purchase at a discounted price.

The mission of Samford's RCPE is to create pastoral enrichment opportunities that help ministers maintain their effectiveness.  The center serves clergy of any denomination, both men and women, regardless of race or age.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.