Learning Communities

We believe that learning should be lifelong, and not restricted to the academy. To this end, we sponsor local fellowships of learning called “Learning Communities”.

We have designed these especially for pastors, teachers, students, and leaders in the church and civil life, but learning communities are open to anyone eager for learning in conversation.

A Greystone Learning Community is a local fellowship of learners who meet in person for regular events such as public lectures, the Greystone Roundtable or Reading Room discussion series, study days, and conferences. Select Learning Communities also run full modules on site. Greystone's central location and principal Learning Community is in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, ten minutes from Pittsburgh International Airport and is the sole provider of regular advanced (postgraduate) confessional Reformed theological education for western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region.

We also feature Learning Communities in Waco, TX; Orlando, FL; and Grove City, PA, where a wide range of scholarly and cultural topics are explored through special lectures and discussion events.

Greystone also runs Learning Communities in Oxford, the quintessential university town for which Greystone provides the only option for advanced Reformed theological study; in Cardiff, partnering with Ely Presbyterian Church (Reformed) in service of western England and Wales; and in London, partnering with The Pastors' Academy at London Theological Seminary to provide top-tier ThM and PhD modular program options in service of the UK, Europe, and beyond.

The Greystone Difference

The concept of the “learning community” is becoming increasingly popular, but many are little more than formal book clubs. What makes GTI learning communities different?

  1. Leadership from trained facilitators. Each learning community is led by one of its members who has been trained by Greystone staff in the art of conversation moderation. This person facilitates the fellowship’s gathering and its relationship with Greystone.

  2. Careful reading. Good reading of great works depends as much on the reader as the author. Method is crucial for reading and interpretation. Unlike many other learning communities, our fellowships offer and emphasize the practice of alert, informed, careful reading. Readers in our learning circles cultivate a rigorous method, deep respect for the text, contextual awareness, the ability to draw comparative connections, and a knack for deriving takeaways without jumping to conclusions.

  3. Reading Room sessions. A session is an intensive seminar with a teacher, usually one who visits in person but, in rare cases, over video. Each session has two elements: (a) the teacher’s presentation and (b) lively discussion of the given topic through assigned texts.  Discussions are led by the teacher, sometimes with the assistance of the learning community director. Session lectures are recorded whenever possible, and then archived at Greystone Connect where they are made available thereafter to Greystone students, supporters, and the interested public.  Discussions however are not recorded, so as to facilitate free, open conversation.

What happens in sessions

The story of conversation and theological fellowships in the Reformed tradition is told in recent works such as Scott M. Manetsch, Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609; or Joanne J. Jung, Godly Conversation: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference. Our sessions in theological fellowship reflect the scope and depth of Greystone's vision for theological renewal and advancement. 

In Coraopolis, Jonathan Stark led close readings of George Herbert, Atria Larson guided us through the labyrinthine yet important complications of medieval penitential theory, L. Michael Sacasas considered urgent questions in the ethics of technology, and--in an ongoing, open-ended series--Mark Garcia continues to lead us steadily through Herman Bavinck’s four-volume Reformed Dogmatics.

In Cardiff, Mark Garcia has discussed the sabbath idea in a world of anxiety, greed, and restlessness, and Phil Haines is currently leading a guided discussion of Fred Sanders on the Trinity.

In London, Mark Garcia has led a study day on Leviticus as Christian Scripture, and in Oxford he has led explorations into questions of theological anthropology as well as features of Reformed Catholicity by way of Ignatius of Antioch and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

In Grove City, Mark Garcia has introduced theological dimensions of cultural developments in gender, Jason M. Rampelt has presented on evolution in the thought of Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield, and Mark Garcia has explained the complicated relationship between John Milton and the Westminster Assembly on divorce and sexuality.

In the coming months, Learning Communities will read in the Apostolic Fathers and other early Christian texts, in select medieval and modern figures of importance, in overlooked but edifying texts in Reformed Orthodoxy, and in examples of contemporary scholarship across the disciplines.

Session formats

  1. Study Day: one day intensive seminar. In the one day intensive session, two or three lectures are given by the teacher over the course of the day and sometimes also the early evening. The advantage of this form is its brevity, which allows it to fit well into the busy schedules of learning circle members.

  2. Study Weekend: two day intensive seminar. In the weekend intensive session,  more material can be covered, with greater room for reflection and follow-up corollary discussion. This form is ideal for groups wanting to explore a topic thoroughly but within the constraints of a working week.

  3. Intensive Course: week-long program of reading, lecture, and discussion. The purpose of an intensive course is to fully initiate the participants into the discussion of a topic or a set of interrelated topics. The advantage of this form is that it allows participants to go very deep into the material in the minimum amount of time.

By the beginning of 2019, all Learning Communities will join an open-ended series of occasional seminars (in-person, live-streamed, or recorded, depending on location) on aspects of confessional Reformed catholicity, a key commitment of Greystone.

Fees for Greystone sessions vary by location and the session format. However, Greystone Members are able to access all recorded events, lectures, and full course modules as auditors for a modest monthly or annual subscription fee. Visit our membership page or email us for more information, or to inquire about starting one in your area.