$1.6 Million Granted for Development and Deployment

Dec 20, 2002 05:36 PM EST

CHICAGO Il -- The largest endowment of the Transition-into-Ministry Program funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. for pioneering clergy mentoring program will be given to the congregations and clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The $1.6 million grant will fund the five-year "Making Excellent Disciples" pilot project being developed by the diocese's Department of Congregational Development and Deployment.

The project aims to create and sustain pastoral excellence among new clergy, and revitalize excellence among existing clergy through a comprehensive training and mentoring program. Under the program, recently ordained clergy will spend their first two years in service at mentoring congregations - stable congregations led by exemplary pastors. When they finish the two year tern, they will be in charge "mustard seed congregations," small missions oriented congregations with less than 150 active members.

"This program will allow us to take enthusiastic, promising ordinands and place them in some of our strongest mentoring congregations so they are better prepared for everyday realities as new ministry leaders," said Bishop William Persell, Chicago's diocesan bishop, in his grant application letter.

In 2003 five congregations will be chosen as mentoring congregations with an additional five chosen in 2004. For the initial five-year pilot phase, 25 new clergy will be mentored by 10 seasoned and successful pastors. They will spend their first two years as curates (a newly ordained assistant priest) in the mentoring congregations and then be assigned to serve in one of the 15 mustard seed congregations for at least three years.

"This is a terrific grant to receive and promises to assist not only newly ordained clergy in Chicago in their further formation but also to have learnings for us all," said the Rev. Melford E. Holland Jr., coordinator of the Presiding Bishop's Office for Ministry Development." It connects in spirit with our Fresh Start program which seeks to provide resources for clergy, congregational leaders, and dioceses in the first two years of their new ministry together." The Diocese of Chicago is also a participant in Fresh Start.

By Paulina C.