The Moravian Church Northern Province (MCNP) seeks a five-year grant for partial support of the Moravian Clergy Connections Project. Conducted in partnership with the Moravian Church Southern Province (MCSP), the project consists of four initiatives that will form Moravian pastors from throughout the United States through spiritual direction, coaching, mentoring, cohort groups, and an interprovincial retreat that brings clergy together for mutual learning and support. They will collaborate with Moravian Theological Seminary to develop educational components and with the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America to seek ongoing funding. To sustain the effort, the MCNP will use earnings from an endowed fund, and the MCSP will draw on proceeds of a recent estate gift. Their goal is to enhance clergy health and leadership to equip them to support one another and their congregations to be more vital agents of God’s transforming love in the world.
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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.
Pentecostal Theological Seminary seeks a five-year grant for partial support of the PTS Thrive program. This effort will provide coaching and mentoring for younger Pentecostal pastors and offer guidance and support to early and mid-career pastors who are facing challenging pastoral transitions or seeking to extend their congregations’ ministries into their communities. Program activities include: a new system for administrative bishops to coordinate placement of new pastors in Church of God congregations; the cultivation and preparation of mid- and late-career pastors to serve as mentors for their younger colleagues; the matching of younger clergy with seasoned mentors; and the facilitation of regular opportunities for pastors to engage one another in person and online. To sustain this program, the seminary will develop a fee structure for second and third year participants and increase the number of participating pastors to 300 by the final year of the grant.
The Dakotas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church seeks a five-year grant to support its Higher Ground program. This effort seeks to support rural church pastors by helping them develop and strengthen healthy leadership practices that promote the well-being of congregations and church systems. By focusing on a pastor’s holistic health (spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, social), the conference’s clergy will be better equipped to lead healthier congregations. The conference will walk alongside clergy at key junctures in their careers to help them reassess their calling and leadership gifts, re-engage with their sense of vocation and passion for pastoral leadership, and renew and refocus their ministries. Clergy will begin the year of renewal and refocus at a six-day retreat and will continue meeting with counselors and coaches through the rest of the year in the program. Pastors will participate in individual and group coaching as they put together personal and professional development plans. To sustain this effort, the conference will cultivate individual donors with a vision to support pastors, incorporate elements into its operating budget and reallocate earnings from its endowment.
Eastern Mennonite University seeks a five-year grant to support its Strengthening Foundations for Thriving in Ministry project. By enhancing continuing education opportunities and facilitating training for peer group coaching, Eastern Mennonite will connect local pastors, who serve as mentors and small group facilitators for seminary students, in a peer group with one another and provide training and resources for geographically scattered pastors to start up and facilitate their own peer groups. In addition, the project will create opportunities for more pastors to experience spiritual direction and participate in workshops that focus on thriving, professional transitions and peer group formation. To sustain this work, Eastern Mennonite will seek partnerships with key denominational constituencies and incorporate project activities into its operating budget.
Grace Theological Seminary (GTS) is building the Charis Collective for Thriving Leaders (CC), an organic network of leaders from Charis Fellowship partner organizations formed to collaborate in the flourishing of church planters and small church revitalization pastors. The Charis Collective's primary initiative is the establishment of the Center for Thriving Leaders at GTS. The Center will facilitate mentor-based cohorts, annual events, ongoing training events, digital resources, and academic programs geared toward equipping pastors and encouraging their spouses.
Leaders from the Charis Collective will participate on an advisory board for the Center and lend their expertise as cohort mentors, speakers, and contributors. As a result of participating, church planters, small church revitalizers, and pastors-in-training will develop the skills, competencies, and relationships needed for thriving in ministry. Grace Theological Seminary believes this program will contribute to the flourishing of local churches within the Charis Fellowship, expand the reach of the gospel in North America, and develop a new generation of seasoned pastors who, in turn, mentor fellow pastors.