Clergy Making a Place: Early Career Pastors as Generative Community Leaders



First Cohort of Clergy Making A Place


Clergy Making a Place: Early Career Pastors as Generative Community Leaders, a pastoral leadership initiative, was made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.  This program will place promising early career clergy serving congregations in cities and towns throughout North Carolina and adjacent regions of Virginia in sustained conversation with the most notable and effective civic and business leaders in the region around key issues facing this area.  Our goal is to offer early career clergy the unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills in conversation with civic and business leaders in their locale so that together they can more effectively engage and respond to the particular social and economic challenges of the communities they serve.

Hilary Floyd, Program Associate  |

Program Design

The program will be based on a cohort model with an emphasis upon place-based congregational and community leadership.  Leaders in place are persons who are deeply engaged with the land, history, people, and patterns of life in their communities; firmly committed to the health and wellbeing of their locale and its inhabitants.  Participants will meet together over a two-year period in order to explore and develop meaningful responses to the persistent challenges facing the “places” where they worship and live out their ministerial vocation, in dialogue with civic and business leaders in their locale. Each group meeting will focus on a pressing social concern that has an impact on community flourishing (e.g. health care, poverty and economic justice, unemployment and regional economic renewal, education, hunger and food access, immigration and racial justice).  Learning opportunities with civic, business, and regional experts on these issues will be paired with opportunities for worship, spiritual renewal, and peer reflection on vocational and professional identity.

Theological Emphasis

The theological rhythm(s) of the church’s worship life will frame our two-year journey and help us discern how the various seasons of the year – Incarnation, Resurrection, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time – invite us to respond to the specific challenges that confront our communities.  Through theological reflection and practices of attentiveness, we will invite clergy participants to imagine how the liturgy or “the work of the people” is continuous with their ongoing commitment to incarnating resurrection in the public places where they serve and lead.

What Participants Are Saying

“What I have loved about the early career clergy program has been the opportunity to engage with colleagues in deep and meaningful ways on issues that are pertinent to our congregations.   These relationships where we share experiences, prayer, travel, hard conversations, laughter, frustrations, worship and much more give me hope for what is possible in our congregations and in our communities.  In addition, the breath of professions, organizations, businesses, government agencies, and individuals who come to share in conversation with us has been enriching and enlightening.  These two years have helped me feel grounded, encouraged, connected, and committed in a way that makes me look forward to many years of ministry.” (Carla Gregg-Kearns)

“Wake Forest Divinity School’s Clergy Making a Place program provides vital opportunities to step back from the myriad responsibilities of ministry in order to reflect theologically on the most critical issues facing the church of the future—how will the body of Christ stand with the most vulnerable?  I parent young children while co-pastoring a growing new church start, and I can imagine no better use of my time than this program, which has renewed my call to ministry.  Not only has it drawn me closer to God, but it has also proved invaluable in fostering an ongoing relationship with a tight-knit but diverse group of clergy peers.  They have deepened my faith in the work of the Spirit at this seismic time in the life of the church.  The extraordinary leadership of the Rev. Dr. Veronice Miles drew me into this program and breathes inspiration into every gathering.  Clergy Making a Place has been one of the greatest blessings of the early years of my vocation, bending the trajectory of my ministry.  For that I say, thanks be to God!” (Amanda Hendler-Voss)

Clergy Making a Place has impacted my ministry in a variety of positive ways.  By engaging with leaders in diverse fields seeking to effect positive change across North Carolina, I’ve been better equipped to lead my own congregation in impacting our community.  One concrete example of this is that I was able to make a connection with USDA resources to support an ongoing community meal thanks to one of our presenters.  Furthermore, I’ve been greatly enriched by the coordinators of the program, by excellent worship, and by time to reflect, discuss, and compare notes with an amazing group of fellow clergy with whom I would not have otherwise connected.” (Drew McIntyre)

“Being a part of the Clergy Making a Place cohort has been transformative in many ways. Having the opportunity to engage with civic and business leaders has reignited a passion for involving congregations in ministry outside the walls of the church. It has given me new eyes to see the issues of social justice facing our region and brought to light new solutions. Moreover, it has given me the tools and resources to engage my congregation in meaningful conversations so that we might effectively respond to these challenges in our own community. Finally, it has given me a network of colleagues who support and challenge me both personally and professionally. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.” (Courtney Hickman)

“I have had a marvelous experience gathering with my ministry peers and wrestling theologically and logistically with the ways in which we are called to be leaders in our communities. It has been a privilege to have conversations with so many leaders from across our region that have their fingers on the pulse of the myriad challenging issues that people in our communities face each day. Those conversations have better equipped me to continue those discussions in my own church and community and have opened doors for ongoing engagement with key people who are influencing and making decisions about these and other important social issues.“ (Rob Lemons)