With more than 400 current participants and 500 alumni/ae, the Company of New Pastors (CNP) is setting its sights even higher.  

The Rev. Karen Russell, who provides oversight for CNP — a transition-into-ministry program centered in helping seminary students develop a deeply theological core as they enter pastoral ministry — says the program is seeking to broaden its availability. 

“I think a program like this is even more important today,” said Russell. “Providing for the support and formation of new pastors and pastors-to-be seems to be a no-brainer.” 

Since 2002, CNP has offered support through mentored peer groups, encouraged the practices of daily prayer and scripture reading, and facilitated sustained theological reflection for more than 500 new pastoral leaders. The program, while simple, has often provided a lifeline for new ministers as they navigate the early years of ministry.

Until this year, only those seminary graduates who had participated in a group while still in seminary were able to take advantage of the mentored peer groups which continue to meet over a four-year period following seminary. 

Beginning this fall, CNP will broaden the program’s reach, offering a limited number of CNP positions to first-call pastors who did not have the opportunity to participate in a CNP seminary group. These positions will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to new pastors who have been out of seminary less than three years.

“Although we intend to continue to focus on participants while still in seminary,” Russell said. “We also know that supporting new pastoral leaders in changing contexts requires some flexibility.”

 “This is a ‘test drive,’” explained Russell. “We intentionally chose to start out slowly in order to adapt to the change. Eventually we hope to launch an even broader expansion.”

Managing the expansion will be important, as other changes to the CNP program have been implemented in the last several months. 

“CNP was created with a very generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, but now we are no longer grant funded,” said the Rev. Charles Wiley, coordinator of the office of Theology and Worship, which administers the program. “Although we have new flexibility with the program, we must also find ways to make the program financially sustainable.”

Seeking to build financial support for CNP will fall to Russell. “Karen has a dual responsibility,” Wiley said. “Not only is she responsible for the day-to-day management of the program, but she also recently added the responsibility of funds development for the program.”

CNP’s forthcoming expansion is not the only news from Theology and Worship. There are also plans for additional program offerings for CNP alumni/ae on a variety of topics.

“We have two events planned for the fall that will feature well-known keynote speakers,” said Russell. “We also plan to launch a series of webinars on a variety of subjects.” 

Details on these program offerings will be released in early August.

“We look forward to reaching and resourcing even more pastors as we seek to support them for a lifetime of ministry,” Russell said.

To learn more about applying to join the Company of New Pastors, visit the CNP website.

Beginning Aug. 1, Emily Enders Odom will serve as the Office of Communications communications strategist for Theology, Worship and Education ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.