Wake Forest University, through its School of Divinity, a multi-denominational school rooted historically in the Baptist theological tradition, seeks a five-year grant for the Shared Wisdom for Thriving in Ministry program, an effort to bring together and build supportive relationships among inter-generational cohorts of pastors who serve congregations in multiple contexts. The Wake Forest School of Divinity will work in partnership with the Center for Congregational Health in the Wake Forest Medical Center FaithHealth Division and identify 72 clergy who serve in different ministry contexts (including solo pastors, heads of staff, associate pastors, intentional interim pastors, church planters and bi-vocational pastors). These pastors will be formed into three peer cohort groups. The program will connect each pastor with a pastor-mentor and a clergy-coach, and the pastor peer cohorts will participate in a series of leadership development opportunities led by Center for Congregational Health and divinity school faculty. To sustain this work, the divinity school will fold elements of the program into its doctor of ministry degree and certificate programs, and the Center for Congregational Health will incorporate the work into its ongoing clergy continuing education programs.
Virginia Union University seeks to launch a new effort to help pastors address major personal and professional challenges. Based in its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology (STVU), the project will provide pastors with holistic self-care, mentorship and collegial relationships, and congregational and community support. STVU will develop peer support groups for pastors, set aside sacred spaces for pastors to engage in reflection and retreats, and build support at the congregational and community levels for pastors to seek out and receive help when necessary.
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.
The University of Dubuque Theological School, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), requests a five-year grant to establish the Clergy Coaching in Community and Context program, a set of three related initiatives that will support 75 to 90 pastoral leaders in the formation of revitalizing peer and mentor relationships, excellent pastoral habits and leadership skills and equip them to articulate a personal vision for their vocation and ministry. Each of the three initiatives will form a community for either new pastors, midcareer pastors or pastors engaged in innovative missional ministries. Modeled after successful high-performance sports coaching approaches that utilize both directive and nondirective coaching, each initiative will place participants in a coaching/mentoring relationship. Participant groups will be lead through explorations of wise and effective pastoral leadership habits and practices. The pastors also will develop sustaining relationships with each other and become part of a wider community of clergy committed to the pursuit of excellence in pastoral ministry. The theological school is exploring various ways of embedding program elements into sustainable initiatives including incorporate program elements into its doctor of ministry degree program, targeted alumni engagement, and new partnerships.
United Methodist Foundation of New England’s “Innovate, Integrate, Elevate” program expands and enhances a successful peer learning experience by offering nine cohort gatherings over a five-year period. The cohorts will be offered to pastors in cross-cultural appointments, as well as part-time licensed local pastors, and full-time clergy serving in a variety of settings and stages of ministry. Each cohort will have nationally recognized conversation partners and facilitators, time for individual and communal reflection, and the ability to work with peers to create leadership tools and resources for their mutual and individual use. Each person will participate in frequent group coaching calls. The goal of this program is to provide a space for pastors to grow in their relationship with Christ, explore their personal ministry, create a network of colleagues, and develop leadership skills to share across the annual conference.
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.