Advisory Board

The Learning Pastoral Imagination Project is supported by Advisory Board members who collectively are experienced in researching professional development and pastoral ministry. Advisory Board members, David Woods, Patricia Benner and Charles Foster offer guidance and advice on all aspects of the project.

David J. Wood

David WoodGlencoe, IL
Senior Minister, Glencoe Union Church

David J. Wood, an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches, USA, was awarded the Master of Divinity degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. in 1982 and the Master of Sacred Theology degree from Yale University in 1989. His studies centered in Theology and Ethics.

After serving as a parish pastor, in 1998 David accepted a call to serve as the first Associate Director of the Louisville Institute—a Lilly Endowment funded Project for the Study of American Religion based at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. As Associate Director, David sought, through grant making and convening groups, to stimulate a sustained, critical, constructive, and ecumenical conversation about the practice of pastoral leadership in a changing church in a changing culture. David also served on the Adjunct Faculty of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary in their Doctor of Ministry program.

In 2002 David accepted a call to become the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardiner, Maine. In conjunction with that call, he also served as a consultant to the Lilly Endowment as the Coordinator of the Transition into Ministry Program, which focuses on recent seminary graduates as they make their journey from classroom to congregation. Currently, this program includes a total of thirty-four projects across the country and the denominational spectrum. Nineteen of these programs are congregation based and the remaining eight are institution based—a variety of denominational offices and seminaries. To date, more than 750 recent seminary graduates have participated in these programs.  

In July 2009, David began serving as the Senior Pastor of Glencoe Union Church—a mainline non-denominational congregation.

Patricia Benner

Patricia BennerProfessor Emerita, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
University of California, School of Nursing

Before becoming Professor Emerita in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Patricia Benner was the Thelma Shobe Endowed Chair in Ethics and Spirituality in the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. She received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University), two years of study at the Nazarene Theological Seminary, her master's degree in medical surgical nursing from the University of California, San Francisco, and the Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in Stress and Coping and Health under the direction of Hubert Dreyfus and Richard Lazarus.

Benner is the author of fourteen books, including From Novice to Expert, named an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year for nursing education and nursing research in 1984, and The Primacy of Caring, co-authored with Judith Wrubel, named Book of the Year in 1990, also in two categories.

She was Director of the National Nursing Education Research Project under the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement in Teaching. This research project is part of a larger project that studies the preparation for the professions. This was the first national study of nursing education for the past 30 years and resulted in the book Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation with Molly Sutphen, Victoria Leonard and Lisa Day (Jossey Bass, 2009).

Benner is an internationally noted researcher and lecturer on nursing practice, education, skill acquisition, and ethics. Her work has had wide influence on nursing both in the United States and internationally. Currently, her research includes the study Clinical Knowledge Development in the Combat Arena Health Care Delivery and care of Wounded Warriors, and nursing education, practice, formation, and everyday ethical comportment in nursing practice.

Charles R. Foster

Charles FosterEmeritus Professor of Religion and Education
Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Charles R. Foster received a B.A. from Willamette University, a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary, and an Ed.D. from Teacher's College, Columbia University. He held positions in Christian Education at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Scarritt Graduate School, and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Religious Education. While at Candler, Foster also served as Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Director of the Program of Christian Education.  

Over the last decade since his retirement from Emory, he served as Senior Scholar and Director of the National Clergy Education Research Project under the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement in Teaching. This research project is part of a larger project that studies the preparation for the professions. The resulting findings were published in 2006 in Educating Clergy: Teaching Practices and the Pastoral Imagination, written by Foster and his associates Lisa E. Dahill, Lawrence A. Golemon, and Barbara Wang Tolentino.

Throughout his career, Foster traveled widely to deliver lectures and workshops on Christian education. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Teaching in the Community of Faith, Educating Congregations: The Future of Christian Education, and  Embracing Diversity: Leadership in Multicultural Congregations.

Foster is an ordained United Methodist Minister in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.