In the past few months, I heard about a new opportunity being offered through my alma mater, Hendrix College. My dad, who had heard about it from his associate pastor who had applied for the program, thought it sounded like something right up my alley. I’m happy to announce that I received the fellowship (and am quite pleased that I didn’t “beat out” my dad’s associate pastor for a slot in the fellowship of 10 clergy—in fact, this church’s own ministry candidate, Jeffrey Rickman, soon to be appointed to Nowata, also received the fellowship and the two of us will represent Oklahoma in a group that comes from Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, and elsewhere.) I’m thankful to Steve Griffiths, Carole Minter, and Dan Peil, all of whom wrote fairly involved recommendations for me. I even found out that John Waldorf sent a letter of reference unbidden by me! If that doesn’t make a pastor feel affirmed and supported, I don’t know what will. I’m also thankful to the SPRC for recommending to the church council that a statement of support be sent with the recommendations. They did so unanimously. (The institute wanted it to be completely clear that this was intended to enable my ministry and be thought of as continuing education rather than vacation time—and everything is paid for by the Lilly Endowment, including a stipend!) Here’s some info about the fellowship that was included in the introductory letter with the application:
Hendrix College is proud to announce The Institute for Clergy and Civic Engagement. Sponsored by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the purpose of the program is to develop leadership skills and ministry capacity for early career clergy to lead their churches in addressing major issues within their communities and meet the needs of the mission field outside the walls of the church.
Program participants will receive training and support during a two-year period, from Fall, 2015 to Spring, 2017. Participants will meet in three retreats per year, focused on a specific social issue affecting their communities as well as issues surrounding self-care and spiritual renewal. Following each retreat, participants will be challenged to discuss the topic with business and civic leaders in their own communities and explore ways to address the issues locally. Also, pastors will participate in a summer mission trip between year one and two to serve a marginalized population with organizations that exemplify innovative cooperative efforts among churches, civic officials and business leaders. At the end of the two-year program, participants will develop a ministry plan that focuses on one issue for the church and the community to address together.
Sounds like fun, huh? I’m excited to see what fruit comes of it all. Thanks for the support!