Whitworth University, rooted in the Reformed tradition, seeks a four year grant for partial support for a program to support pastors who plant new churches in the Pacific Northwest. Pastors who start new churches often are isolated from colleagues. Church planting requires specific leadership skills, including recruiting members, training lay leaders and establishing a congregation’s governance and infrastructure. The program will create cohorts of new church planters who will meet regularly with mentors for a 12 month period. The cohort members will engage in an initial orientation week, small groups for prayer and bible study, biweekly one-on-one mentor meetings, the annual Whitworth Ministry Summit each summer, as well as a final cohort retreat. To sustain this program, the networks of cohort churches will seek contributions from successful new church starts in the Pacific Northwest that are committed to raising up the next generation of church planters.
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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.
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.
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.
The University of the South (Sewanee), affiliated with the Episcopal Church, seeks a five-year grant for its Thriving in Ministry Mentoring Network and Continuing Education Program. Based at the university’s School of Theology, the program seeks to facilitate effective collaborative mentoring for clergy serving rural communities, clergy in Latino ministries, clergy in African-American ministries, and clergy with nontraditional theological educations. The pastors will meet annually at Sewanee to receive training in the mentoring model and in topics of particular interest to the participants. Throughout each year, conveners in each group will facilitate ongoing group reflection on pastoral leadership through online discussions, conference calls and in-person meetings. Sewanee will establish and actively manage an online network to allow for further communication within and among mentoring groups between annual summits. To sustain this effort, Sewanee’s development office will solicit contributions from donors and charge participants modest fees.
Resilient Leaders Project at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology strengthens the three streams of resilience — people, practices, and purpose — in the lives of Christian leaders. Over one year, cohorts of 8-16 church workers gather for four multi-day learning modules and monthly peer groups. Resilient Leaders Project provides clergy with opportunities to build relationships; practice spiritual, physical, and emotional fitness; and discern their vocational next steps to build generative communities. Leaders leave the program with deeper self- and other-understanding, expanded capacity to manage stress and change, and tools to create redemptive narratives from their personal and congregational stories. The project is committed to learning about the practice of pastoral resilience and its impact on congregations and communities. To sustain this work, The School’s advancement team will work with a development consultant to cultivate major donors interested in supporting this project.