Azusa Pacific University (APU), an evangelical school rooted in the Wesleyan theological heritage, requests a five-year grant for partial support for its Thriving in Ministry program, an effort to expand leadership resources and provide mentors for pastors serving congregations in urban communities, especially women in ministry and pastors of color. The university will develop and implement an educational program that includes three modules that help pastors: 1) assess their health and well-being; 2) foster and support peer and mentoring relationships with colleagues; and 3) identify and develop their leadership strengths. Program activities will include coursework, workshops, webinars, assessments, reflection exercises and one-on-one coaching. In addition, the effort will invest significant time and resources into identifying and training experienced pastors to serve as mentors. To sustain this effort, APU will build program elements into its operating budget, form strategic partnerships with external organizations, solicit donations and charge modest program fees.
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Barton College, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) collegiate institution in Wilson, North Carolina, is proud to launch the Center for Vocation and Rural Ministry (CVRM). CVRM is focused on supporting pastors of small congregations and congregations of color in the region of Eastern North Carolina. The Center, functioning as a program of the Barton College Center for Religious Studies, focuses on assisting pastors who serve in full-time and bi-vocational ministry. It offers short-term sabbatical experiences, spiritual support, and intellectual and social opportunities, as well as the possibility of mentorship and relational development with other regional pastors. Each year, Eastern North Carolina pastors may apply to participate in a two-year cohort in the Revive! Renewal Experiences. These experiences offer pastors an opportunity to have a retreat experience at Barton while college personnel provide pulpit supply for them. Cohort pastors focus on their well-being throughout their time in the program and are supported by spiritual directors. Pastors are given access to Barton College's fitness, intellectual, and spiritual resources. As an institution, Barton is committed to personal wellness and wholeness, and CVRM's offerings invite local pastors to experience the same.
Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States of America (Catholic Extension) seeks a five-year grant to provide partial support for its Mission Immersion Program for Pastors. This effort will create mission immersion experiences that will foster life-giving and mutually enriching relationships among midcareer pastors and mission communities. Research suggests that midcareer priests are searching for new inspiration, especially those who are busy in their parishes and have begun to feel a sense of isolation from the larger church or are feeling hemmed in by the many demands placed on them. Through this project, cohorts of five to seven priests will travel to mission communities for several days to experience firsthand the church’s missionary work in distressed regions of the United States. The aim is to broaden their theological and pastoral horizons, facilitate spiritual rejuvenation, and develop deeper relationships among priests and faith communities. To sustain this work, Catholic Extension will absorb the project into its normal operations and invite congregations to increase their mission investment.
Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) —affiliated with the United Church of Christ— in an effort to support new pastors in their first years of ministry after seminary graduation, hosts a program specifically curated for new and bi-vocational clergy who are serving congregations in economically disadvantaged and marginalized communities. The CTS “Resilience in Leadership” initiative will gather pastors into five regional cohorts across the country that will meet quarterly for two years and convene annually at a consultation featuring exemplary pastors and experts. Each Resilience in Leadership program participant will also meet monthly with an experienced pastor-mentor to cultivate a vision for and negotiate the challenges of leading a small and under-resourced congregation.
China Evangelical Seminary North America (CESNA), a Chinese-speaking nondenominational seminary with a mission to provide training for Chinese pastors and lay leaders who serve in immigrant churches, seeks a five-year grant to support its CESNA Chinese Pastor Care Project. This endeavor seeks to serve new and midcareer Chinese speaking pastors to enhance their spiritual vitality, emotional health, relational support, integrity and resilience. The pastors will form ongoing peer support groups, receive individual mentoring, engage in interactive leadership workshops and participate in spiritual formation retreats held at regular intervals. CESNA will seek donations from participants and sponsorships from congregations to sustain this program.
Located in Harlem, New York City, City Seminary of New York seeks in its five-year grant to support its Thriving in Ministry Initiative project. This is an effort to cultivate an expansive community of pastoral practice across often disconnected ministries and church traditions in the metropolitan area. Through collaborative inquiry and praxis reflection groups, spiritual direction retreats, portraiture, and annual gatherings, City Seminary hopes to connect pastors in similar and different seasons of ministry to a community of support and encouragement. The project proposes to nurture clergy faith and spirituality, invite clergy to listen to their congregational members, explore the importance of their family and intergenerational interactions, and make space for them to reflect on their congregation’s mission and purpose in a complex and ever-changing urban setting. City Seminary will incorporate project activities into its ongoing graduate and non-degree programs and its operating budget. The overarching vision is to make Thriving in Ministry part of the fabric of our seminary life now and into the future.