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.
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.
The Sisters of St. Benedict of Beech Grove, Indiana, through the Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center, received a five-year grant to support its Thriving in Ministry project. Focused on women clergy, this project will gather 40 clergywomen from different Protestant denominations in two cohorts for five, 10-day retreats that include learning, prayer and spiritual mentoring (Women Touched by Grace). Additionally, each year 20 clergywomen will gather to participate in learning sessions focused on moving gracefully through transitions in their personal and professional lives (Grace Filled Turnings). Training women clergy to act as mentors is also part of this initiative (A Multitude of Mentors). To sustain this project, the Benedict Inn will draw on an established fund that invites parishioners, families, friends and judicatories to provide financial support.
The Benedictine Sisters of Cullman, Alabama, a Roman Catholic religious community grounded in the Benedictine tradition, seeks a five-year grant to support its Women at the Wellsprings: Drawing from Timeless Springs to Nourish Ministry Today program. Through this effort, the Benedictine Sisters will help ecumenical groups of women pastoral leaders thrive in their congregational leadership role by sharing with them the Benedictine values of hospitality and community and engaging them in the spiritual practices of prayer and hospitality from the Benedictine monastic tradition. The program will gather groups of women pastoral leaders five times in two and a half years for eight day sessions of worship, prayer, peer group reflection, presentations and rest. In addition, the pastoral leaders will develop a plan to engage in spiritual practices that they will implement when they return home. To sustain this effort after the grant period concludes, Benedictine Sisters will invite participants to raise funds through their congregations and denominations.
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.