Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) seeks a five-year grant to support its Thriving on the Journey: A Process for Pastoral Leaders program. This effort aims to support new and midcareer Mennonite pastors as they negotiate key professional transitions to help them address challenges and lead their congregations more confidently. During this two-year program, new pastors will meet individually every other week with wise pastoral mentors and together as cohorts of five pastors each for three extended weekend gatherings. Cohorts of six midcareer pastors each will meet with two seasoned leaders with expertise in pastoral ministry and intercultural competence four times a year to build peer mentoring relationships with each other and develop stronger skills for leading congregations in their particular ministry contexts. To sustain this program, AMBS will seek contributions from participants and their congregations and cultivate gifts from new donors.
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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.
Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) requests a four-year grant for partial support of its Uptick program. This effort seeks to provide clergy with individual and group interactions that will enable them to deepen their spiritual leadership, heighten their sense of accountability to colleagues and lay leaders, and construct a vision for their pastoral vocations that will guide their ministries. BGAV will identify young pastors who serve congregations in three high-density population areas of Virginia that are ethnically and racially diverse and form them into peer clergy cohorts. During a one-year period, the pastors in each cohort will engage in a combination of retreats, online meetings, coaching and mentoring aimed at helping them deepen their listening skills (such as the ability to listen to God, mentors, peers and people in the communities they serve) and responding appropriately as pastoral leaders. They will also address the challenges of ministry by training for intercultural intelligence, reconciliation and urban community development to build bridges of civility for flourishing. To sustain this program, BGAV will cultivate a “pay-it-forward” ethos, raising funds from former participants and their congregations and soliciting gifts from new individual donors.
Benedictine Women of Madison, an ecumenical religious community, received a five-year grant to support its Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal program. This endeavor seeks to offer pastors in the early- and mid-stages of their careers the opportunity to experience spiritual renewal through immersions in Christian contemplative practices and the forming of supportive relationships with clergy peers. The pastors will participate in two immersions to experience the rhythms, people and sacred space of Holy Wisdom Monastery. Between immersions, pastors will stay connected to one another through video conference calls and a variety of leadership resources and activities sponsored by the Center. The Benedictine Women will sustain this program through partnerships with congregations and external organizations, grants, earnings from its endowment and modest participant fees.
California Lutheran University received a five-year grant to create the Thriving Leadership Formation Program. Working in partnership with Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and 11 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the program will help pastors and church leaders strengthen specific practical leadership skills not learned in seminary while encouraging them to deepen their engagement with their congregations and communities. This effort will emphasize collaborative learning in cohorts (in person and online) that cultivate mutual support, practices, and accountability, and provide pastors and church leaders with mentoring, spiritual direction and coaching. To sustain this program, California Lutheran and its partner organizations will monetize mentoring and leadership development resources developed through the program and solicit financial support from its network of synods and congregations.