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.
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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.
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.