The Polycarp Community is a joint undertaking of the Center for Evangelism and Missional Church Studies at Southern Methodist University in the United States and international universities which follow the British model of doctoral studies and thesis writing. These universities have recently included The University of South Africa, The University of Durham, and The University of Manchester.
Prof. William J. Abraham, coordinator of the Polycarp Community, explains the vision for the community as follows:
"We believe that effective ministry requires sophisticated leadership in local congregations. Such leadership is manifest in enthusiasm for the Gospel, effective preaching of the scriptures, appropriate administration of the sacraments, ability to co-ordinate and foster lay ministry, lively pastoral skills, and an overall passion for mission and evangelism at home and abroad.
It is this latter component, that is, mission and evangelism, which is the driving force of our passion. By mission we mean here the whole network of tasks that God has called the Church to implement in every generation. This includes but is not limited to the quest for justice in the world, the fostering of healthy local and national communities, love for the poor, and the care of creation. Within this overall mission we locate the ministry of evangelism. We envisage this ministry as including proclamation and effective catechesis directed at robust initiation in the kingdom of God as announced by Jesus Christ and made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the making of strong disciples who have been initiated into the kingdom of God is absolutely critical for the future of the church."
Members of Polycarp are currently working on dissertations and some have already graduated, having earned D.Th. and Ph.D. degrees. Some are serving as Senior Fellows in the Polycarp Community and some members also are working on publications addressing a variety of missiological issues.