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.
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The Southern New England Conference seeks a five-year grant for the Together We Thrive: Nurturing Pastoral Leadership program. Working in partnership with the Connecticut and Rhode Island UCC conferences, the Western Diocese of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts and the New England Synod ELCA, Lutheran, the program will offer a variety of opportunities for pastors to build relationships with peers and strengthen their leadership practices, including: 1) facilitated clergy cohorts to hone the practices of ministry; 2) clergy affinity groups to provide opportunities for intentional relationship building between clergy for mutual support and accountability; and 3) clergy coach training opportunities for seasoned clergy to work with new pastors. An annual colloquy will draw all the clergy groups together to reflect on challenges of pastoral ministry. The development specialist within the conference will oversee the fundraising to solicit donations from individuals, partner churches as well as additional grant sources to sustain this program.
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.
The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Communities Churches (MCC) requests a five-year grant for its Thriving in Ministry program. Seeking to break down the isolation experienced by many pastors in the denomination, this program aims to recruit, empower, and support clergy from diverse communities and theological traditions in forming a national ministerial network for mutual peer-support. The program will focus on pastors who are in the midst of a professional transition and pair them with wise pastor-mentors. The pastors will participate in a series of retreats to explore together practices of pastoral leadership and deepen their relationships with each other. To sustain this effort, MCC will ask participants to contribute to offer the program to future participants, incorporate costs into the operating budget and raise funds from donors.
Macedonian Ministry Foundation (MMF), an ecumenical organization, seeks a five-year grant to establish the Pastors in Community for Renewal and Leadership Development program. This effort will build on and expand a successful program in which groups of 10 to 15 pastoral leaders are formed into cohorts and commit to meet monthly for three years. Each cohort is guided by a trained facilitator who functions as both a mentor and a “pastor to the pastors” and who leads the pastors through a leadership development curriculum focused on pastoral health and leadership, congregational development and community engagement. In addition, the pastors will attend a series of retreats focused on deepening their sense of pastoral identity and vocation and travel together to the Holy Land and other locations for leadership immersion experiences. MMF anticipates that it will launch 21 new pastoral cohorts during the next five years, 7 of which are supported directly by Thriving in Ministry funds. To sustain this program, MMF will incorporate key elements into its operating budget and raise funds as part of its ongoing fundraising.
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.