reNEW: Skills for Leading New and Renewing Progressive Churches


Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, Rev Michael Piazza, and Rev. Cameron Trimble

This DMin focus group teaches practical skills for starting a new progressive church or leading the renewal of a church that is stagnant or in decline.  It is designed around the premise that churches are rarely resurrected, but can be born again, hence the skills needed in both situations are very similar: creating compelling vision, an effective communication strategy, data management, community development, external mission, transformational worship, etc.  This curriculum is designed by the Center for Progressive Renewal.

Learning Outcomes  
Upon successful completion of this degree students will be able to:

  • Articulate a commitment to sound leadership, including issues related to visioning, marketing, stewardship, change and conflict resolution,

  • Understand the contextual implications of place and people in shaping local ministries,

  • Name and describe the value of the many kinds of diversity present in our society today, including cultural, religious, racial, and sexual expressions of diversity, while helping work toward the formation of community,

  • Conceptualize and design social justice ministries committed to caring for all of God’s children, especially the marginalized,

  • Articulate and design approaches to worship that are diverse, meaningful, inclusive, and vibrant.

Biographies of the Instructors
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson is a spiritual leader, pastor, mentor, and community builder who serves as Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ (UCC), the world’s largest liberal Christian church with a primary outreach to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. Rev. Dr. Hudson joined the Cathedral in August 2004, after seven years as pastor of Friends Congregational Church UCC in College Station, Texas. She was overwhelmingly elected to serve as the Senior Pastor of the Cathedral of Hope in February 2005, making the Cathedral of Hope UCC the largest church in the State of Texas, and one of the largest in the United States, to have a woman Senior Pastor.

A native Texan, Rev. Dr. Hudson received her PhD in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University in 1993 and graduated with honors from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in 1994. She was ordained into the United Church of Christ in 1997. Rev. Dr. Hudson is the former President of the South Central Conference of the UCC, served for ten years on the Board of Directors of the UCC Justice & Witness Ministry, has been elected to the UCC Pension Boards on which she will be seated in 2011, is a member of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy, and currently serves on the Board of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rev. Michael Piazza currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of the Center for Progressive Renewal, specializing in church multiplication and renewal. Rev. Piazza served as the senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope during a time of unprecedented growth. When he arrived in Dallas in 1987, the church had 280 members and a budget of $280,000. When he retired to become Dean of the Cathedral, the church’s membership was more than 3,500, with a consolidated budget of more than $3 million. This growth took place in a setting that was hostile to the church’s constituency and during a time in which the church performed more than 1,500 funerals for persons with HIV/AIDS.  He is a recent recipient of the “Leading Voice” award from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion.  Today Rev. Piazza lives in Atlanta, GA where, in addition to his full-time work with the Center he is the pastor of Virginia Highland Church. 

Rev. Cameron Trimble is the Co-Executive Director, CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal.  She most recently served as an advisor to the Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Team of Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ, and as Associate Conference Minister of Church Development in the Southeast Conference of the UCC. She has both started and renewed churches and has coached dozens of churches across the country in numerous denominations. Each setting has given her a unique perspective on the challenges of cultivating leaders equipped to meet the needs of the future of mainline Protestantism.  Rev. Trimble lives in Atlanta, GA (though she feels like she lives on Delta).

Contact for more information: Rev. Brice Thomas at | 937.529.2256