ATLANTA – For the fourth time in nine years, the Lilly Endowment Inc. has made a significant grant to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as it serves churches and ministers.
After three previous grants totaling $4 million, the Lilly Endowment has just announced the award of a $750,150 grant to the Fellowship to create a new program that will serve ministers in their first call.
Under the name CBF Fellows Program, this new ministry will be dedicated to strengthening women and men who are serving at their first church after seminary. Through cohort learning, peer learning, coaching, mentoring and networking, young ministers will be given access to resources and experiences to help them meet the inevitable challenges of a first call. They will also be connected with each other, with the larger movement and encouraged toward excellence in ministry that will mark their vocational lives throughout their journeys in service to the church.
“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 CBF Fellows 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 outcomes of the program are anticipated to be enhancing the capacity of young ministers to exhibit excellence in their service to congregations, while also establishing the habits, practices and rhythms that are essential to long term health and vitality in the ministerial vocation.
The program is also expected to increase retention of ministers, strengthen the connection between young ministers and the Fellowship community, foster a greater sense of community among the young ministers and help re-energize more experienced ministers who serve as supervisors and mentors.
CBF will partner with other organizations and seminaries to create and evaluate the fellows program. At the conclusion of the three-year grant, the Fellowship has committed to funding the fellows program through its budget.
“This initiative will empower a vivid, covenantal relationship between young ministers, churches, their schools, other ministers, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and its ministry partners,” Hamrick said. “The focus of this dynamic relationship will be excellence in the life of ministers and the congregations they serve.
Information on applying for the CBF Fellows Program will be announced in the spring.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.