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Sustaining Pastoral Excellence
Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Project Summary
The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board and Bethany Theological Seminary, received a grant of $2 million from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. to participate in a national program called "Sustaining Pastoral Excellence.' The program is an effort of the Endowment to focus attention and energy on maintaining the high caliber of many of the country's pastoral leaders.
The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence programs of the Academy engaged excellent pastors in processes which empower them to exercise their creativity and imagination in designing experiences that nurture ongoing accountable relationships of support, shared learning, and deepened spiritual formation of self and others.
This project is designed primarily to serve Church of the Brethren pastors. Some cohort groups have been ecumenical in their makeup. Both the Vital Pastor program and Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership began cohort work in 2005. Lilly Endowment Inc. support continues through 2012.
The final round of cohort groups were started in August 2010 (Advanced Foundations for Church Leaders) and September 2010 (Vital Pastor). While open to all ordained pastors who did not previously participate in the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program, special invitations were extended to pastors who have served congregations 2-10 years.
Two Tracks of Learning
The programs featured two long-term professional growth experiences for pastors, designed to enrich their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, relational and physical health.
The Vital Pastor program invited small cohorts of excellent pastors to design and implement their own learning plans to enhance and sustain self-identified competency areas such as biblical study, preaching and pastoral care. Once focus areas were identified and a course of study outlined, learning groups began by participating in an alternate context immersion experience, essentially consisting of ten days of travel together. Next, the learning groups met for study, support, accountability and spiritual formation on a regular basis for 18 months to two years. Finally, at the end of the two year time period, participants from all learning groups on the same two year cycle meet in retreat for five days to share their learning and group experiences with one another.
The Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership program engaged cohorts of 10 to 12 pastors in learning experiences to improve their leadership capacities. Eight four-day retreats over two years provided an opportunity for groups of 10-15 pastors to deeply engage practical questions of ministry by immersion in theoretical learning, self-assessment, spiritual formation, case study, shared learning, and a supportive network of peers and instructors. The program equipped pastors to provide sustained quality leadership in a wide variety of contexts and situations by deepening spiritual formation, strengthening critical thinking and analytical skills, exposing them to a wide body of both church and secular leadership models, and empowering the ministerial leadership of each individual.
For more information about Brethren Academy, contact:
Julie Hostetter, Executive Director of The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership
Glenn Timmons, Coordinator for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence
Linda Timmons, Coordinator for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence