Western Seminary, affiliated with Conservative Baptist Association of America, seeks a five-year grant for partial support to launch the Center for Pastoral Flourishing program (CPF), an effort to nurture and support the long-term well-being of pastors in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. The program will focus on new pastors early in their service, emerging leaders stepping into larger pastoral leadership roles, mid-career pastors encountering transitions in settings or roles, and seasoned pastors looking to contribute to the emerging next generation. The CPF will identify and intentionally incorporate more pastors into its leadership networks, sponsor forums on leadership practices that foster and sustain flourishing in ministry, form pastors into peer cohorts, produce pastoral leadership resources for personal and group learning, and provide coaching for pastors and congregations. To sustain the CPF, Western Seminary will charge participants a nominal fee and seek funding from partners who share a commitment to strong pastoral leadership.
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.
Virginia Union University seeks to launch a new effort to help pastors address major personal and professional challenges. Based in its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology (STVU), the project will provide pastors with holistic self-care, mentorship and collegial relationships, and congregational and community support. STVU will develop peer support groups for pastors, set aside sacred spaces for pastors to engage in reflection and retreats, and build support at the congregational and community levels for pastors to seek out and receive help when necessary.
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 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.
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.