Lexington Theological Seminary Professor Receives Wabash Grant

(LEXINGTON, KY – April 26, 2019) – Lexington Theological Seminary is proud to announce Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, has been awarded a $30,000 grant for her project, “Dialogue in the ‘Purple Zone’: Pedagogies for Civil Discourse in Online and On-site Settings.”

The project was made possible by a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, which is funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and located at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. 

Dr. Schade’s project coincides with the release of her new book, Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), which focuses on helping seminary students, clergy and congregations use a form of civil discourse called “deliberative dialogue” to bridge political divisions and find common ground for ministry. Her project will be part of the Wabash Center’s newly created Pedagogies for Social Justice and Civic Engagement Grant for exploring teaching strategies that encourage students to critically consider issues of public engagement and social action in relationship to the understanding of religion.

“I am grateful for this opportunity for me and my colleagues at LTS to consider the ways deliberative dialogue can be used in three learning settings: an on-site classroom, an online platform and in the congregation,” Schade said. “The Wabash grant will enable us to explore how this form of civil discourse can help bridge the divide between seminary study and public ministry, and also build capacity for civic engagement and social justice action in the church.”

Deliberative dialogue, a method used by the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forum Institute, enables citizens from diverse backgrounds and political orientations to constructively engage one another, support community building, and strengthen the democratic process. In a deliberative dialogue, participants engage in respectful discourse to weigh the pros and cons of three different approaches to an issue; discern together the common values they share in the midst of their different standpoints; and determine next steps for social action as a community.

“We are excited to support Dr. Schade in this project,” said LTS President Dr. Charisse L. Gillette. “Her pedagogical method of deliberative dialogue is both creative and timely as our current social, educational and ecclesial institutions face divisive upheavals over differing opinions and perspectives about a number of critically important topics. We are forgetting how to engage in dialogue in the public square. Dr. Schade’s project will empower students, staff, faculty and alumni to model new ways of communicating across the divide that will lead to civic engagement towards social change.”

Rev. Dr. Loida I. Martell, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at LTS, said Schade’s project is supported by a newly formed Certificate in Continuing Education in Church, Community and Conflict Management. This year-long five-course certificate will enable LTS to bring deliberative dialogue as well as other pedagogies of civil discourse into the classroom as students engage with issues that can cause divides in the church and society. Supported by this Wabash-funded program, the Seminary’s goal is to help build a pedagogical bridge between classroom study and public theology by enabling students, clergy and congregations to host and facilitate difficult conversations around challenging social issues.

“The Wabash Center deals with excellence in teaching and developing the craft of pedagogy for professors,” said Martell. “Wabash grants are very competitive, so for us to receive such a grant speaks highly of our faculty at Lexington Theological Seminary and the quality of this project. We have high hopes for the way this project will enrich our school, our church, and the world to which we are called to serve.”

For more information, contact:

Rev. Tanya J. Tyler

Director of Communications

Lexington Theological Seminary

230 Lexington Green Circle Suite 300

Lexington, KY 40503



(859) 280-1238