Westmont College, a nondenominational Christian college, seeks a five-year grant to create its Frontiers program, an effort to support pastors and help them find communities that will be intellectually and spiritually invigorating. A survey of nearly 800 clergy in the college’s network, conducted in the spring of 2018, helped Westmont identify the needs of two distinct populations of clergy: new and mid-career pastors. The program will serve pastors during the first years of their ministerial careers by widening their vision for their work and strengthening their commitment to the calling of ministry. It also will focus on mid-career pastors who are seeking renewal and wisdom as they consider whether to stay in their current posts or seek new positions at other congregations. In both dimensions, the pastors will have opportunities to meet with mentors and receive advice from experienced clergy through retreats and participation in peer mentoring groups. The program also will host leadership development events, provide clergy with self-reflection experiences and encourage pastors to practice spiritual disciplines. Frontiers will be included in the Westmont’s capital campaign, and the college is committed to raising an endowment for the program.
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The University of Notre Dame seeks a five-year grant to establish a new project to support pastoral leaders and help them thrive in ministry. Based at its McGrath Institute for Church Life, this project will host annual, weeklong retreats for 12 pastors each who are nominated by diocesan bishops and organize regular continuing education events to support priestly renewal. The Institute also will host eight-day retreats to connect mentors and pastoral leaders in the first years of ministry to help prepare them for long-term ministry through professional development, financial and career planning, and personal and relational support. Mentors will meet with these early career pastoral leaders for two years. Ongoing engagement through digital resources will extend the reach of the initiative. The Institute will incorporate project activities into its operating budget to sustain the project.
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.
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina is planning, as part of its Thriving in Pastoral Ministry in the Episcopal Church program, an effort to launch new priests into vibrant ministries by deepening their community-consciousness and helping them form missional imaginations. The diocese will assign three new priests to serve as pastoral residents for three years in one of three congregations. The priests will rotate through these congregations, serving each congregation for one year. The congregations are geographically proximate and comprise members from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic communities. Supported by spiritual direction, supervision, mentoring, coaching from senior clergy and leadership development experiences with peers and colleagues, these new clergy will develop cross-cultural competence, missional vision, liturgical agility, leadership skills, and vocational resilience. The diocese will sustain the program by drawing on earnings from endowed funds and raising additional gifts from individuals and congregations.
Bethany Fellowships, affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), seeks a five-year grant for partial support to expand its Living With Integrity: Bethany Ecumenical Fellows Program, a mentoring and spiritual leadership development program for young clergy in the first years of congregational service. The Bethany Fellowships program is a four-year leadership development experience for new pastors that provides them with wise mentors, engages them in spiritual practices and prepares them to lead congregations within the fluid and turbulent environment of our time. The grant will assist Bethany Fellowships in expanding its program to involve ecumenically diverse groups of young clergy. During a four-year period, pastors will participate in eight retreats to engage peer colleagues, seasoned pastors and innovative leaders in in-depth explorations of leadership challenges and best practices. Between retreats, clergy receive coaching from mentors and communicate regularly with peers.
Spelman College, an historically black college for women, seeks funding for the WISDOM Center Fellowship program. Building on the activities of its successful WISDOM Center (which was launched in 2003 with Lilly Endowment support), this endeavor seeks to provide African-American millennial women in ministry, especially Spelman alumnae, with opportunities for peer learning, rest and creative engagement. The program will focus on younger black women clergy who are serving as associate pastors and discerning paths toward senior pastoral leadership positions. The pastors will form cohorts and meet for one year with mentors who will lead their retreats and gatherings. To sustain this work, Spelman will incorporate the program’s costs into its operating budget and solicit contributions from donors.