The Second Episcopal District African Methodist Episcopal comprises 360 rural, suburban, and urban churches located in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina serving primarily Black congregations and communities. The Wounded Healers Pastoral Support Program (WHPSP) is designed specifically to promote holistic wellbeing among all clergy in the Second District, including new/early/mid/late-career and retired pastors. WHPSP has five goals that will help pastors thrive: 1. improve self-care, 2. engage spiritual formation practices, 3. maintain healthy boundaries, 4. cultivate authentic voices, and 5. establish meaningful collegial relationships. Pastors can take advantage of the program components, which are support groups, mentoring, retreat, or online web to increase their well-being. Resulting from discussions at clergy town hall meetings and feedback from online webinars, WHPSP partners with Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary and Chaney Coaching Group. Through this collaborative, clergy may receive training as mentors or the prerequisite preparation required to become a certified coach. The program also offers pastors the opportunity to participate in support groups, mentoring, retreats, and/or online Q&A website and webinars.
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Asbury Theological Seminary’s Thriving in Ministry Project is an effort that will form and support small groups (“thriving bands”) for clergy to provide mutual encouragement, mentoring, education and continuing peer relationships. Rooted in the Wesleyan tradition of class meetings, Asbury’s “thriving bands” will be composed of clergy in particular professional transitional moments, including: 1) women clergy in their first five years of ministry as well as those transitioning to senior leadership; 2) Latina/o bi-vocational pastors in their initial years of ministry when the challenges of establishing a clear identity, managing time and creating healthy family contexts require unique training, peer support and mentoring; and 3) church planters, during their inaugural period of ministry, with a focus on managing change as well as family relationships. To sustain this project, Asbury will draw on the existing financial resources, test participant-fee structures and develop cost-effective strategies to foster connections through video conferencing resources and mobile device applications.
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.
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.
Belhaven University, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), seeks a five-year grant to establish the Rural Mississippi Pastors Initiative (RMPI), an effort to connect, equip, and empower 80 rural pastors from across the state to help them strengthen their leadership skills and thus help their congregations and communities to flourish. RMPI will recruit two cohorts of 40 pastors each who are serving rural communities throughout Mississippi. Gathering regularly during a 24-month period, the pastors will build supportive and lasting peer relationships, form mentoring relationships with experienced rural pastors and engage in consultations with experts on specific leadership challenges, such as conflict resolution, finance, governance and communication. Through these activities, the program seeks to deepen each pastor’s understanding of his or her professional identity. To sustain this program, Belhaven’s development office will cultivate financial support from their network of large churches and their alumni/ae donor base.
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.