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.
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.