The Church of All Nations, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation in Minneapolis, is one of five congregations to receive a $10,000 Cultures of Call grant from The Fund for Theological Education (FTE).
The grant was awarded for the church’s “Discerning Vocations Together,” a program that integrates a resident internship program with congregational life, creating new opportunities for congregation members and resident interns to discern vocations together through forums, group meetings and community service.
FTE will award nearly $50,000 to five initiatives selected from proposals nationwide. The programs, to be implemented over the next 18 months, represent congregations in six different denominations.
The investment is part of an ecumenical Calling Congregations initiative designed by FTE to equip churches and church-related organizations to play active roles in fostering vocational discernment among young men and women — and to support those considering pastoral ministry as a profession.
Congregations across North America are seeking new ways of cultivating and calling talented young leaders for the future as fewer students entering theological schools today do so with the aim of one day serving a local congregation as a pastor.
Calling Congregations seeks to establish a national network of 500 congregational and church-related partners committed to the cause of raising future pastoral leaders. It offers regional workshops; a national conference; teaching tools; Web-based resources and up to 40 fellowships annually which match a congregation’s financial support toward tuition and expenses for a young church member’s first year of seminary.
With these awards, FTE reaches a milestone of $400,000 in Cultures of Call grants since launching the program with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. in 2007.
“Congregations are recognizing that the ability to renew quality church leadership across generations requires a ‘culture of call’ that pays attention to the calling of each of its members, especially young people,” said Jim Goodmann, FTE Calling Congregations regional director and grant program administrator.
“That commitment to calling forth talented leadership for the future church is at the heart of these efforts,” he added. “Grants are opportunities to engage the leadership of congregations as communities of faith, in company with their pastors. Congregations that practice vocation care as a norm of their life together can’t help but have a significant impact on the future of the church.”
Other recipients of 2010 FTE Cultures of Call grants are:
- Bethlehem Baptist Church, Alexandria, Va. — $10,000 for “Somebody’s Calling My Name,” a project that creates a space to assist teens and young adults with discerning God’s call in their lives through retreats, contemplative practices and shared gatherings with ministry leaders.
- Bridge Street African Methodist Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, NY — $10,000 for “Equipping the Body for Service,”enabling an intergenerational exploration of vocations in an environment where “stories of call,” questions and conversation about vocation are shared, along with opportunities for study and reflection.
- The Cornelius Corps, New Community Church (The Church of the Savior), Washington, D.C. — $ 7,500 for “God’s Call on Your Life,”which will engage Vale United Methodist Church in Oakton, VA and Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC in “seasons of teaching” on dimensions of God’s call and will recruit and train teams to establish cultures of call within their congregations.
- Wellesley Congregational Church (United Church of Christ), Wellesley, Mass. — $10,000 for “Growing in Faith Together” (GIFT), to foster an intentional approach to faith formation and vocational discernment for youth and adults together. GIFT will offer a 20-week program for adults that runs parallel to the church’s ninth-grade confirmation class, with intersections in small groups for sharing prayer, conversation and learning regarding Christian practices, beliefs and discernment of gifts and God’s call.
The Fund for Theological Education supports the next generation of leaders among pastors and theological educators, providing more than $1.5 million annually in fellowships and a network of support to gifted young people from all denominations and racial/ethnic backgrounds. For more information, visit The Fund for Theological Education's Web site.