Thriving in Ministry at Virginia Theological Seminary (Thriving at VTS) creates peer learning and mentoring experiences for Episcopal priests who are in the midst of professional transitions. We develop safe, accountable learning experiences for clergy to grow and infuse vitality into the congregations they serve. Thriving at VTS forms peer groups for priests whose ministry settings generate unique challenges, e.g. church planters, clergy couples, ethnic missioners, school chaplains, and women who are expanding their roles in leadership. These clergy are most likely to find themselves lacking the resources needed for continuing education and vocational flourishing. We train facilitators and mentors to lead Thriving participants through case-based/action reflection learning and to supportively challenge each priest’s commitment to his or her well-being. Through careful attention to fostering positive habits of pastoral leadership and peer work, the project seeks to build a self-sustaining culture of honest, continuous, collaborative, and intentional leadership development among Episcopal priests. VTS will sustain this project through annual participant fees and financial contributions from partner organizations.
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Vineyard USA, an association of more than 2,400 churches worldwide rooted in the Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions (“third wave”), is excited to have been awarded a five-year grant to support Vineyard’s Well-being of Pastors Initiative. This endeavor will invite at least 90 pastors over 5 years into three affinity-based peer cohorts. Each of three cohorts launches with 30-36 pastors completing a wellness survey and attending an initial retreat to get to know other cohort members. The following month and over the next two years, these affinity-group pastors will meet as a peer group in online video conferences with their affinity mentor, and he or she will meet individually with a specialized support team consisting of their mentor, a coach, and a spiritual director of their choice from a pool of top-rated professionals within the Vineyard. The individual and group meetings will occur 17 of the 23 months during the two year period. At the conclusion of each cohort’s two years together, the cohort will gather in person again and a second wellness survey will gauge the professional and personal growth of the pastors. Survey results will be used to fine-tune the program. An additional 30 pastors will take the wellness survey at the beginning and end to function as a control group for measurement accuracy. To sustain this effort, Vineyard USA will incorporate the program into its operating budget and seek financial support from individuals and congregations who are committed to pastor well-being.
Union Theological Seminary is home to RISE Together, a national mentorship network specifically for women of color that connects seminarians and early/mid-career clergy with experienced female ministers, pastors, scholars and community leaders. Founded as an initiative of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (Union) in collaboration with the women of color in Ministry (WOCIM) Project, RISE supports both the professional and pastoral formation of women of color as they embark on ministerial careers and serve in church and faith-based leadership positions. RISE Together program staff are working to develop a sustainable model for the recruitment and retention of mentees, mentors and host institutions. Currently, the mentorship network has 10 cohorts in 7 cities—New York, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, Lancaster, Pa., Oakland and Los Angeles with a total of 104 mentees. Host institutional partners include, RISE headquarters Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, American Baptist Seminary of the West, Innovative Spaces for Asian American Christianity, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Interdenominational Theological Seminary, Lancaster Theological Seminary and McCormick Theological Seminary.
St. Thomas University, a Roman Catholic university founded by the Augustinian Order, seeks a five-year grant for its Investing in Pastors: Thriving in Ministry in South Florida program. This program will gather ecumenical cohorts of early career pastors who serve multi-ethnic churches in South Florida for monthly daylong sessions that seek to strengthen the pastors’ abilities to respond more effectively and gracefully to contemporary challenges of ministry. An ecumenical group of experienced pastors will form a council of elders to meet with the cohorts to share wisdom about their experiences of ministry in South Florida. In addition, St. Thomas faculty from a variety of disciplines (such as business, law, and psychology) will work with the pastors to help them understand more broadly the challenges of ministry in South Florida. To sustain this effort, St. Thomas will seek funding from donors and identify denominational and institutional resources.
Cultivating Enough in the Care of Clergy is a two-year program for pastors who are serving small churches, churches in communities of color, and church plants and re-plants. Part of the Presbytery of Philadelphia’s Ministry and Leadership Incubator, this program is based upon the conviction that healthy leaders shape healthy congregations. The program uplifts a “theology of enough” both within the pastors and these contexts, which are often under-resourced and with their leaders facing burnout. Through cohorts of 10-12 pastors each, participants intentionally focus on “being enough, practicing enough, and offering enough” by being resourced through regular small group gatherings, retreats, deep rest, and one-on-one support. After completing the program, pastors are encouraged to be resources for incoming cohorts, spurning a larger culture of wellness within the named contexts of the presbytery by nurturing a connectional spirit alongside their peers of pastors. Inspiring pastors in these particular settings encourages health and vitality among these congregations in order to better transform their communities with the love and justice of the good news of Jesus Christ.
The PLNU Center for Pastoral Leadership is excited about the potential to further its mission to resource pastors and partner with them in ministry through the Ministerial Coaching Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to provide professional developmental coaching to church-planting pastors, pastors serving small-membership churches and pastors serving congregations serving communities of color. Through a personal and cohort coaching model, encouraging peer-to-peer connection and resourcing between pastors, this initiative provides tailored training that addresses the specific leadership challenges these pastors encounter. We hope to help pastors navigate the unprecedented challenges they face today with congruence, authenticity and courage.