The Lilly Foundation Endowment had this to say about pastoral ministry:
"The Endowment is convinced that many congregations in the nation, in a variety of settings and within a multiplicity of faith traditions, are being served by excellent pastoral leaders. These leaders and the work they do are of inestimable value. The quality of pastoral leadership is key to vital congregational life. When churches and parishes are led by spiritually strong, thoughtful, able, and imaginative pastors, congregations tend to thrive."
In response to this challenge, the Synod of Mid-America created the Gathering for Pastoral Sustenance (GPS) program. The GPS program offers spiritual formation, practical education, and collegial support to pastors who are serving in the first 5 years of ministry. GPS focuses on key areas identified in the Lilly Endowment's work on Sustaining Pastoral Excellence:
Each GPS cohort gathers five times over a two-year period. During each three-day session, participants will have unique access to Guest Teachers. Some of these teachers include:
• Reverend Eileen Campbell-Reed, co-director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination (LPI) Project at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
• Reverend John Wimberly author of The Business of the Church: The Uncomfortable Truth that Faithful Ministry Requires Effective Management
• Reverend Dr. Andrew root Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary and author of The Relational Pastor.
In addition, the group will spend quality time in prayer, group spiritual direction, group process work, and experiential learning. Between sessions, the SoMA provides each participant an appointment with a spiritual director. GPS engages a pastor's whole being in prayer, relationships, play, and learning very practical skills to support them in their call. Spiritual and relational vitality is our goal as we create each session for your growth, challenge, and learning.
SoMA is proud to announce that on Monday, June 3 we will start the third GPS cohort. The new cohort consists of six teaching elders, all within the first five years of ordained ministry. The session will focus on ways for teaching elders to explore, develop, and enrich both personal and professional spiritual practices. The guest teacher for this session is the Reverend Marjorie Thompson.
The SoMA, and hopefully you too, are excited about this program and our cohort. We ask that you join us in this ministry by joining with us in prayer as partners in this ministry. If you would like more information about the GPS program, or its instructors, check out the GPS link on the synod webpage.