ATLANTA (ABP) – The Lilly Endowment has awarded the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship a $750,000 grant to create a program for ministers serving in their first church after seminary.
The CBF Fellows Program will offer cohort learning, peer learning, coaching, mentoring and networking to help young ministers cope with challenges of a first call. CBF leaders hope the program will increase the retention of ministers, strengthen connections between young ministers and the CBF and foster community as junior and senior ministers connect as supervisors and mentors.
“The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship believes strongly that the first ministerial placement after seminary graduation is extremely critical to the formation of pastoral excellence in the lives of young clergy,” said Terry Hamrick, coordinator of missional visioning and chief author of the grant proposal. “During these first years in full-time ministry, a minister has the opportunity to establish the rhythms and practices that allow vision, imagination, discernment and relational capacity and to be nourished and strengthened by resurrection confidence, robust spirituality, curiosity, global perspective and love for the church.”
The program will begin with a 25-member cohort in 2012 followed by the selection of a second cohort in 2014. The program will consist of being matched with a coach and selecting their own mentor, coursework with their cohort at new and previously existing CBF events and inclusion in a CBF peer learning group.
The grant is the fourth time in nine years the Lilly Endowment has contributed significant sums of money to the Atlanta-based CBF. In 2003 the Fellowship received just under $2 million for an initiative for ministerial well-being, followed by a second grant of nearly $1 million to expand the program in 2006. In 2008 Lilly gave CBF $1 million to create a “missional leadership ecosystem” to help young people discover their vocational calling.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.