New or recently ordained bi-vocational priests and deacons trained through the Iona Collaborative, Iona School for Ministry, or Bishop Kemper School for Ministry, who are or will be ordained and assigned to a congregation by July 2019, may apply to Seminary of the Southwest’s Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry continuing education program.

Explanation of the Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry Program

The Seminary of the Southwest through its Iona Center has been awarded a five-year grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. as part of Lilly’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative. Through this initiative, the Endowment seeks to support efforts by its grantees to develop new or strengthen existing programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as role models and exemplars and guide them through key leadership challenges at critical moments in their ministerial careers. The seminary’s program – Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry – provides post-ordination mentoring and ongoing professional development to locally-formed, bi-vocational Priests and Deacons serving congregations throughout the country. The program focuses on some of the critical challenges facing new and recently ordained bi-vocational clergy as they transition from being students in local diocesan schools to their new roles in ordained pastoral ministry. The primary goal of the seminary program is to help new and recently ordained clergy thrive in congregational leadership and, in doing so, enhance the vitality of the congregations and communities they serve. To participate in Year One of the seminary’s Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry program, an applicant must be:

  1. A new or recently ordained Priest or Deacon (Vocational or Transitional) who has graduated from a local diocesan school which uses the seminary’s Iona Collaborative curriculum and now serves in congregational ministry; OR
  2. A new or recently ordained Priest or Deacon (Vocational or Transitional) who graduated from the Iona School for Ministry in the Diocese of Texas or the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry and now serves in congregational ministry; OR
  3. A student who will graduate in May 2019 from one of the local schools of formation listed above, and will be ordained to the diaconate by July 2019 and assigned to serve in congregational ministry.

Since meaningful change primarily takes place through peer-to-peer and mentoring relationships, the seminary’s Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry program will feature six (6) peer cohorts each year, with six (6) clergy participants assigned to each cohort (a total of 36 participants each year). Two cohorts (12 total participants) will focus on Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)/Pastoral Care Education, and will be led by the Rev. Sarah Knoll Sweeney, an accredited CPE educator. Two more cohorts (12 total participants) will focus on Spiritual Formation and Practices for individuals and congregations, and will be led by Rebecca Hall, an experienced spiritual director, and teacher with a Masters of Spiritual Formation degree from the seminary. Two additional cohorts (12 total participants) will focus on Preaching and will be led by the Rev. Lisa Cressman, D.Min., the Founder and Steward of Backstory Preaching. If a sufficient number of Vocational Deacons apply for the program, the seminary anticipates establishing a seventh cohort comprised only of Vocational Deacons and focused on mentoring through a variety of videoconferences focusing on pastoral care education, spiritual formation and practices for individuals and congregations, preaching, and other practices associated with diaconal ministries.

Applicants admitted to the program will be assigned to one specific cohort for the yearlong course. The seminary will make every effort to assign participants to the cohort of their first choice, but cannot guarantee that in every case.

The program will begin with an in-person meeting of all participants and the program leaders and mentors at Camp Allen on July 24-26, 2019. Each cohort will thereafter meet together with the cohort leader in monthly or bi-weekly group videoconferences.

Additionally, each participant will receive individual monthly videoconference instruction from their cohort leader and regular consultations with one or more mentors assigned to them from a team of clergy and lay leaders with a variety of experiences in congregational and diocesan leadership.

The Seminary’s Expectations of Participants

If selected for the Year One program, participants must attend the inaugural, in-person meeting of the leaders, mentors, and participants at Camp Allen, set for July 24-26, 2019. At this meeting, each of the six cohort groups will meet together to plan their scheduled work over the course of Year One. All expenses associated with attendance at this meeting, and all other expenses of participation, will be paid by the seminary.

Following the in-person meeting at Camp Allen, we expect participants to attend and actively contribute to at least 90% of the videoconference sessions scheduled for their cohort over the course of Year One. We also expect participants to meet individually by videoconference at least six (6) times with their specific cohort leaders and at least six (6) times with their assigned mentors. We also anticipate that participants will continue to meet with the other members of their peer group cohort for at least one year following the conclusion of the Year One program in June 2020. The program budget includes funding for Zoom videoconference accounts for each cohort to facilitate ongoing videoconference meetings after June 2020.

Applicants admitted to the program will be assigned to one specific cohort for the yearlong course. The seminary will make every effort to assign participants to the cohort of their first choice, but cannot guarantee that in every case.

The program will begin with an in-person meeting of all participants and the program leaders and mentors. Participants who satisfactorily complete requirements in a Year One CPE/Pastoral Care cohort will receive a certificate denoting the award of a unit of CPE accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), the national governing body for CPE education. We anticipate these two cohorts will meet bi-weekly in two and one-half hour videoconference sessions.

Those satisfactorily participating in the track focused on Spiritual Formation and Practices for Individuals and Congregations will receive a certificate in Spiritual Formation from the seminary. We also anticipate that, following completion of a Spiritual Formation cohort, participants will find a spiritual director and continue with regular spiritual direction sessions for at least one year after completion of the course. We also expect that participants will implement in their congregations at least two of the spiritual practices for individuals or congregations presented in their cohort over the course of the Year One program. We anticipate these two cohorts will meet bi-weekly in two-hour videoconference sessions.

The dedicated and successful participant in one of the Preaching cohorts will: progress satisfactorily from “Novice” to “Advanced Beginner” status or higher, according to Backstory Preaching’s “Integrated Proficiency Rubric,” which has been adapted from the seminary’s “Proficiency Rubric;” be given a certificate of completion of the Preaching course by the seminary; and will have completed their Preacher’s Trust for self-guidance and accountability according to Backstory Preaching requirements. After completion of their yearlong course, participants will also be encouraged to continue in Backstory Preaching’s Collective for ongoing peer support, learning, inspiration, growth, and guidance. The Preaching cohorts will begin with an online intensive for seven weeks in August and September, including eleven, live, one-hour, day or evening sessions (all sessions will be recorded). From October through May participants will need to dedicate a total of eight hours per month for videoconference sessions.

End of Year Evaluations for Participants, Congregations, and Dioceses

At the end of the Year One program, there will be an evaluation process. The seminary will seek to determine the value of the program for participants, their congregations, and dioceses. Participants will be asked to reflect on their participation in the program and prepare a self-evaluation that includes some of what they learned from their work, how their participation has changed some of their attitudes and actions, how they plan to sustain their growth through participation in the program, and some of the impacts of their participation on their congregations and dioceses. Each congregation and diocese will also be asked to evaluate how they have been impacted by the participant’s work in the program.

To apply for admission to Year One of the seminary’s Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry program, please download and complete the Application found below. Be sure to obtain approval and the signature of your Bishop or other designated diocesan leader to participate in the program. Please note: the Application requests some personal information required for purposes of making arrangements for air travel and lodging during the course of the program.

Close Menu