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.
Ashland University seeks a five-year grant for partial support to establish the Thriving in Church Ministry project. The primary focus of the project is to empower pastors to thrive in ministry through learning activities that strengthen pastoral identity, promote long term sustainability in ministry, facilitates significant relationships with peers and fosters a professional learning community. The Thriving in Church Ministry project will gather new, assistant, associate, early career, bi-vocational and co-pastors in metropolitan and economically distressed church communities for project-based learning, Ministry Exchange Workshops and seminars. The advanced Thriving in Church Ministry certificate will include personal assessment, leadership development, case studies, peer education, mentoring, and the development of practices designed to foster healthy relationships. To sustain this project, Ashland will offer an advanced Certificate of Thriving in Church Ministry and assess the needs of laity and clergy for the development of additional certificate offerings in theological education.
Auburn Theological Seminary, an ecumenical and multifaith mainline Protestant theological school, requests a five-year grant for partial support for the Preparing Prophetic Leaders for a Multifaith World program, an effort to equip pastors and other emerging faith leaders, especially millennial pastoral leaders of color, with the prophetic imagination, networks of mentorship, and ongoing support they need to lead congregations effectively in the face of the rapidly changing contexts of ministry today. Through regional and national gatherings that use creative pedagogies to draw on the arts, storytelling and group design exercises, the program will help the young pastors develop relationships with mentors and form a peer network of emerging leaders. To sustain the program, Auburn will solicit contributions from individuals and partner organizations.
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.
Baptist Women in Ministry (BWM) seeks a five- year grant for partial support to enhance its current Mentoring Program. This endeavor will identify women ministers who are serving in their first three years of ministry or in their first three years as senior pastors and provide them with networks of encouragement through placement in a peer group, which will be led by a seasoned minister mentor. The program will be expanded to two years, during which the ministers and mentors will gather as cohorts for three retreats and meet once a month via video conferencing. The retreats and monthly meetings will introduce and provide participants with educational, theological, and leadership resources. In addition, the mentors will receive training and ongoing support. BWM will incorporate the enhanced Mentoring Program into its operating budget and seek new sources of funding from churches, foundations, and individuals.
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.
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