Lilly Endowment initiative will help create the Institute for Pastoral Thriving

Thanks to a $1 million grant from Lily Endowment Inc., Portland Seminary and the George Fox University College of Christian Studies recently announced plans to establish the Institute for Pastoral Thriving.

The money comes as part of the endowment's Thriving in Ministry 2017 initiative, which is doling out more than $20 million to support a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as role models and mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry. 

"Many pastors are seeking role models and wise colleagues who can guide them through professional transitions and challenges encountered in particular ministry contexts," said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment's vice president for religion. "Our hope is that this grant to George Fox University will support a new wave of efforts that help clergy thrive and lead their congregations more effectively."  

The new institute will aim to provide spaces for restoration, to the nurturing of spiritual disciplines and the development of peer networks to support pastoral thriving in ministry.

The inaugural pastoral cohort will launch this summer. The five primary principals of the grant – Loren Kerns, Roger Nam, Leah Payne, Erica Ramirez and Trisha Welstad – will partner with local churches and denominations to design and fill the cohorts. Each cohort will meet on the Oregon coast for four-day workshops over two consecutive summers.

The institute will directly address challenges to pastoral thriving, particularly in light of the rapidly changing demographics of the Pacific Northwest.

The institute will also offer an annual symposium for all cohorts to gather as a larger body alongside the Portland Seminary/College of Christian Studies student community, with the intent to foster fruitful conversations regarding pastoral spiritual renewal.

"The challenges facing ministers of the Gospel in the 21st century are many, but so are the opportunities," GFU's Payne said. "By creating small cohorts of pastors looking to thrive holistically, we look forward to fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, creativity, financial support and much-needed rest."

George Fox is one of 24 organizations taking part in the initiative, which features diverse Christian communities, including Baptist, Brethren, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Quaker organizations, as well as interdenominational and non-denominational organizations.

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