Our 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. Greystone is the sole provider of regular advanced (postgraduate) confessional Reformed theological education for western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. We also recently launched a Learning Community in Grove City, PA, where a wide range of scholarly and cultural topics are explored through special lectures and discussion events.

Greystone UK includes 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

Learning communities are increasingly popular, but many are little more than book clubs. What makes GTI learning communities different?

Led by 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.

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 rigorous method deeply respectful of the text, contextual awareness, the ability to draw comparative connections, and the knack of deriving takeaways without jumping to conclusions.

Sessions

A session is an intensive seminar with a teacher, either visiting in person or, more rarely, through a video link. Each session has two elements: the teacher’s presentation and 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 always recorded whenever possible, and then archived in the Greystone Reading Room and made available thereafter to Greystone students, supporters, and the interested public.  Discussions however are not recorded, so as to facilitate free, open conversation.

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. Greystone's sessions in theological fellowship reflect the scope and depth of Greystone's vision for theological renewal and advancement. In Coraopolis/Pittsburgh, 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.

Sessions come in three forms.

1.     Day session (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.     Weekend session (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.     Week-long session: an intensive program of reading, lecture, and discussion structured to thoroughly initiate participants into a topic or set of related topics

This session form is more or less an intensive course. 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. To learn about the annual Greystone Membership program, visit greystoneinstitute.org/membership or email info@greystoneinstitute.org for more information.

To learn more about current local learning communities, click on one of the location images below. To inquire about starting one in your area, email info@greystoneinstitute.org