What is Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry (TBVM)?

TBVM is a continuing education and peer mentoring program from fall to spring offered through the Iona Collaborative, a program of Seminary of the Southwest. The program supports new or recently ordained bi-vocational priests and deacons serving in various pastoral settings. TBVM facilitates the building of relationships with peers and more experienced practitioners who serve as role models to guide participants through key leadership challenges at critical moments in their early ministerial careers.

The goal of TBVM is to help clergy thrive in their pastoral settings and congregational leadership and, in doing so, to enhance the vitality of the congregations and communities they serve.

TBVM is part of the wider Thriving in Ministry Initiative generously funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. All costs and expenses of participation in TBVM are paid by a grant to Seminary of the Southwest through this Initiative.

Program Components and Requirements

  • All courses are from September 2022 to May 2023
  • Applications open on April 20, 2022 for the TBVM program
  • Admission is first come, first served, and each course has a maximum of 10 participants
  • All participants are in a cohort as part of their course
  • All participants are required to attend an opening gathering. The location and dates are set by the cohort leader (check course descriptions for details).

All applicants will be notified by email regarding their application.

Who May Apply?

A TBVM applicant for the 2022-23 program must be one of the following:

  • A new or recently ordained (in the past 5 or so years) bi-vocational, part-time, or non-stipendiary priest or deacon
  • A graduate from a local school of formation in a Diocese participating in the Iona Collaborative, or a bi-vocationally trained Episcopal priest or deacon from another school, or a graduate from the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry;
  • A person who will graduate in 2022 from one of the local schools of formation identified above and will be ordained to the Diaconate (Vocational or Transitional) during 2022

Important Dates: TBVM Program Calendar 2022-2023

April 20, 2022: Applications Open

Fall 2022: Kick off in-person gathering for each cohort group (three day retreat – dates and location determined by cohort teacher)

Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry 2022-23 Course Offerings ▼

For questions about any of these courses, please contact Rebecca Hall, Programs Director, rebecca.hall@ssw.edu.

Soul Care: Spiritual Direction in the Parish

THIS COURSE IS FULL – IT WILL BE OFFERED AGAIN IN THE FUTURE

Course Description: This course will address the theory, ethics, and practice of spiritual direction in a parish setting. It is assumed that most bi-vocational clergy do not have time (or may not be permitted) to engage in ongoing individual spiritual direction with parishioners. For that reason, there will be a particular emphasis on group spiritual direction and group facilitation, but many of the skills and practices can be applied to both group and individual spiritual direction. This course will focus on the study of spiritual growth and ways to facilitate personal transformation and Christian discipleship in a group setting. Each session will include both the practice of group spiritual direction (the cohort will be a spiritual direction group for each other) or peer supervision, as well as time for discussing readings or teaching videos. This course is ideal for clergy who have been ordained long enough to feel comfortable with the day-in, day-out obligations of their ministry and wish to expand their skill-set into the realm of spiritual direction.

Course Information

Required In-Person Gathering: September 15-17, 2022 at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas

Cohort Instructor: Rebecca Hall, MSF, Spiritual Director

Cohort Meeting Time (by Zoom): Mondays, 6-8pm CT, bi-weekly, starting September 26, 2022

Duration: September 2022 – May 2023, a total of 40 cohort hours

Maximum Number of Participants: 8

First Year in Charge: Mentoring for Priests

Course Description: This course is designed for priests in their first year of ministry in a congregation. Since no one learns everything in their ministerial training, this cohort will seek to reduce overwhelming feelings often felt by new clergy in charge by providing support and basic ideas for the first year of ministry. Participants in this course will learn effective methods of church administration, basics principles in pastoral care, and helpful ideas for liturgy. Cohorts will explore together topics in administration such as how to lead an annual meeting, prepare a parochial report, plan for the bishop’s visit, how to lead a vestry or bishop’s committee, prepare a budget, facilitate conflict management, and train and certify lay people. In the section on pastoral care, students will prepare for hospital visits, weddings, funerals, premarital counseling, and ministration to the sick. And in our study of liturgical planning, participants will share ideas on navigating Sunday worship as well as special considerations for Advent, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week. 

Course Information

Required In-Person Gathering: November 3-5, 2022 at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas

Course Instructors: The Rev. Dr. David Scheider and The Rev. Dr. Kathleen Russell

Cohort Meeting Time (by Zoom): Tuesdays, 6-8pm CT, bi-weekly, starting September 13, 2022

Duration: September 2022 – May 2023

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Preaching and Ministry: Paul in Lectionary Year A

THIS COURSE IS FULL – IT WILL BE OFFERED AGAIN IN THE FUTURE

Course Description: Preachers often avoid the epistle readings, but in doing so, they lose out on Paul’s powerful and practical insights into daily Christian life and pastoral leadership. A supportive peer learning community will form to practice interpreting Paul’s letters for present-day needs. Attention will be given to understanding Paul’s context, making contemporary connections, and avoiding anti-Jewish readings. At appropriate times, connections will be made with the Gospel lectionary.

Course Information

Required In-Person Gathering: October 23-26, 2022 at Camp Capers in Waring, Texas (combined retreat for the two Lectionary Year A cohorts)

Cohort Instructor: The Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson

Cohort Meeting Time (by Zoom): Tuesdays, 3-5pm CT, bi-weekly, starting November 1, 2022

Duration: October 2022 – May 2023

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Preaching and Ministry: Matthew in Lectionary Year A

THIS COURSE IS FULL – IT WILL BE OFFERED AGAIN IN THE FUTURE

Course Description: The Gospel of Matthew characterizes the Messiah Jesus as the authoritative interpreter of the Jewish Torah who provides substantial guidance concerning how disciples are to walk in daily life. A supportive peer learning community will form to practice interpreting Matthew for present-day needs, including preaching and pastoral leadership. Attention will be given to the Gospel’s Jewish context, its rigorous moral standards for life in the kingdom of heaven, and the corresponding necessity for practicing forgiveness and mercy to maintain reconciled relationships in the church.  

Course Information

Required In-Person Gathering: October 23-26, 2022 at Camp Capers in Waring, Texas (combined retreat for the two Lectionary Year A cohorts)

Cohort Instructor: The Rev. Dr. John Lewis

Cohort Meeting Time (by Zoom): Thursdays, 3-5pm CT, bi-weekly, starting November 3, 2022

Duration: October 2022 – May 2023

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Recovering Our Creative Self

THIS COURSE IS FULL – IT WILL BE OFFERED AGAIN IN THE FUTURE

Course Description: The twelve practices outlined in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way are the basis for developing a sacred circle or compassionate care group and have proven to provide the necessary foundation and structure to nurture long-term self-mentoring relationships. The twelve seasons are each about recovery or restoration, beginning with Recovering a Sense of Safety, and moving to Identity, Power, Integrity, Possibility, Abundance, Connection, Strength, Compassion, Self-Protection, Autonomy and Faith.  Each season is explored as a group, using readings, writing exercises and spiritual practices to support and encourage a shared spirit of vulnerability. Within the class, we will practice Cameron’s twelve steps of recovering our creative selves and develop familiarity with the use of these tools for creating sacred circles.

Course Information

Required In-Person Gathering: September 8-10, 2022 at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas

Cohort Instructor: The Rev. Terry Pierce

Cohort Meeting Time (by Zoom): Mondays, 6-8pm CT, bi-weekly, starting September 19, 2022

Duration: September 2022 – May 2023

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Pastoral Care in the Congregation and Community

THIS COURSE IS FULL – IT WILL BE OFFERED AGAIN IN THE FUTURE

Course Description: Based on the goals and structure of a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, this cohort works to improve interpersonal and professional skills in the daily care work of community life. Participants will formulate individual goals, practice care skills, present care encounters for peer feedback, and reflect theologically on the work of contemporary caregiving. This course is ideal for congregational leaders who have not had CPE and would like training in pastoral care that is modeled on CPE principles.

Course Information

Required In-Person Gathering: September 15-17, 2022 in Houston, Texas

Cohort Instructor: Sarah Knoll Sweeney, Certified Educator, Clinical Pastoral Education

Cohort Meeting Time (by Zoom): Tuesdays, 4:30-6:30pm CT, bi-weekly, starting September 27, 2022

Duration: September 2022 – May 2023

Maximum Number of Participants: 8


Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry 2022-2023 Program Application

  • (as it appears on your state-issued Driver’s License or government-issued ID)
  • In order to ensure that your congregation/ministry site and your diocese support your participation in TBVM, please provide the following information:

  • Deacon / Priest, where applicable
  • Please select your top three choices for cohorts below

    The Iona Collaborative may prioritize new participants to TBVM when assigning cohorts