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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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.
George Fox University seeks a five-year grant for its Portland Seminary to launch the Institute for Pastoral Thriving. This effort will build one-year peer cohorts of eight to twelve pastors each to foster authentic relationships, offer safe spaces for exploring pastoral leadership challenges, nurture spiritual disciplines, and provide a network of allies to support their own thriving in ministry. The Institute will directly address challenges to pastoral thriving, particularly professional transitions and the rapidly changing demographics of the Pacific Northwest. It also will offer an annual symposium for all cohorts to gather as a larger body alongside the seminary community with the intent to foster fruitful conversations regarding pastoral spiritual renewal. To sustain this project, George Fox University will seek funding from denominations and congregations and provide advanced standing credit in the seminary degree programs for project participants.