Pastor-to-Pastor Program Receives Grant

Posted on March 24th, 2005 by

The Louisville Institute, a program of the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment, Inc. based at the Louisville Seminary, has awarded a grant to the Pastor-to-Pastor program administered by Gustavus Adolphus College, in conjunction with the ELCA’s Southwestern Minnesota Synod. The grant will fund the program, primarily covering basic expenses and creating the potential to expand the program to more area clergy.

Louisville Institute’s grant of more than $35,000 will continue the program, which currently includes 35 pastors from Southwest Minnesota, for an additional two years. Previous funding has been through the Synod, Gustavus, and a Thrivent grant. The program was approaching a phase-out when funding was in question last year. The program, created to help pastors overcome isolation in rural ministries coupled with the idea that healthy pastors make for healthy congregations, will now augment its capacity to 60 clergy members.

The program’s administrators include Darrell Jodock, Bernhardson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Jack Niemi, Vice President for Church Relations, and Brian Beckstrom, Vicar, Chaplain’s Office. Clergy meet in regional groups once a month and discuss issues regarding ministries and recent literature about ministry, including the newly updated and translated Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Marilyn Beyer, administrative assistant for the Office of Church Relations at Gustavus, noted that the program really revolves around peer-support. Three times a year, in January, April, and September, pastors participating in the program attend a retreat at Gustavus that includes inspirational speakers, religious discussions, and the environment Gustavus has to offer to its visitors.

Regarding the program, Anne Andert, a pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Benson, Minn. and a member of the Pastor-to-Pastor advisory board, said, “Mutuality and accountability in the holistic sense is how we understand the value of [the program]; that everything in our life is woven together. If we are struggling in one area of our life, it affects all the areas. Clergy face some unique challenges as a group, and when we gather in small groups we can break down some of the isolation and battle some of the discouragement of what is often a lonely profession with long hours.”

Pastor Scott Jakel of Christ the King Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minn. said, “Getting out of town is a much bigger deal for pastors than many people realize, and I value this time away with pastors who share this same calling that I am privileged to carry out. The monthly meetings allow me to have moments of perspective, as well as support on a more regular basis. I value the input from my nearby partners in ministry.”

On the significance of the program, Jodock said, “Pastoral ministry is a demanding vocation. There is always something more to learn about communicating the faith effectively, leading a congregation wisely, and understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses. We hope this program provides a hospitable setting for ongoing growth in all areas of a pastor’s calling.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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