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

The Wake Forest University School of Divinity (WFUSD) is pleased to announce its exciting new initiative,Clergy Making a Place: Early Career Pastors as Generative Community Leaders, made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.  This program will place promising early career clergy serving congregations in cities and towns along the Interstate 40 corridor in 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.

Veronice Miles, Program Director  |  Hilary Floyd, Program Assistant  |

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 in the I-40 corridor (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.

2014 Cohort

blandDray Bland serves as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Burlington, NC. Dray has served congregations in Florida and North Carolina in the capacities of Youth Pastor and Associate Pastor respectively. Dray matriculated at Florida State University where he received a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Political Science and Religion as well as a Certificate of Public Administration. He attended seminary at Duke University Divinity School where he received the Master of Divinity and a Certificate in Baptist Studies. Currently, Dray is pursuing the Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership at Southern Methodist University (Perkins School of Theology) where he expects to graduate May 2015.

berryEmory Berry, Jr. was born and reared in Miami and Miramar, Florida. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, and he is also a graduate of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. He completed his Doctorate of Ministry at Virginia Union University. In March of 2010, Emory was called to be the eighth pastor of Fourth Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. He is also the proud husband of Julie A. Berry and they have been blessed with two adorable children, Emory Berry III and Jaiden Aniya Berry.

greggCarla Gregg-Kearns, a native of Charlotte, graduated from Salem College and Duke Divinity School. Prior to divinity school she worked at a domestic violence shelter in Oregon and with refugees in Texas. Carla has pastored United Church of Christ congregations in Durham and Cary. She is the President of the UCC Southern Conference, Co-founder of the NC Women’s Preaching Festival and parent of a feisty kindergartener.

hendler-vossAmanda Hendler-Voss is a founding Co-Pastor of Land of the Sky UCC in Asheville, which celebrated its fifth birthday on Pentecost.  In her role, she leads the Justice, Hospitality, and Children’s Ministry Teams and shares responsibility for worship planning and pastoral care.  In the last year, she facilitated the launch of a new Prison Ministry that now provides a day-long retreat for incarcerated mothers and their youth.  Amanda earned her M.Div from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, graduating with certificates in Black Church Studies and Church and Community programs.  She lives in Canton, NC, with her husband, Seth, and two sons, Myles (age 7) and Simon (age 2).

lemonsRob Lemons has served as Minister of Community Impact and Global Connections at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem since January 1, 2006. Rob previously spent 13 years in management with CVS/Pharmacy and Revco Drug Stores. A native of Martinsville, Va., Rob has lived in the Winston-Salem area for over 30 years.  He is a graduate of High Point University (B.S. Business Management) and Wake Forest University School of Divinity (M.Div.) and holds a certification in Asset Based Community Development from the Shalom Center at Drew University Theological Seminary. Rob and his wife Emily have been married since 1996. They live in Clemmons with their two sons, Bobby (15) and Wesley (13).

mcintyreDrew McIntyre is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and currently serves as Pastor of West Bend UMC in Asheboro, NC, where he has been appointed since 2009.  His wife, Brittany, is a Family Medicine Resident at Moses Cone.  A native of Winston-Salem, Drew enjoys reading, film, mixed-martial arts, and playing with his dog (a rescued boxer named Jolene) and cat (Sammy, a rescued tabby cat).

reedSylvester M. Reed Jr. is a native of Winston-Salem. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Winston Salem State University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Shaw University. However, his greatest blessing from Winston Salem State University was meeting his lovely wife Revonda P. Reed. Out of this covenant union came two blessings Sylvester M. Reed III (12) and Sethan M. Reed (10). Rev. Sylvester M. Reed, Jr is a disciple of St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Reed received his license to preach in 2002 and was ordained in 2005. Rev. Reed has faithfully served as Associate Minister for St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church since he answered the call to preach.

hickmanCourtney Young Hickman currently serves as the director of Youth Ministries at Grace United Methodist in Wilmington, NC. Courtney received her bachelor’s degree in business communication studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2004 and her masters of divinity from Wake Forest University in 2008. Prior to joining the staff at Grace, Courtney worked in various non-profits in Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem, and Wilmington. In addition to her work at Grace, Courtney writes and edits a youth curriculum called TeenText, a publication of the Educational Center.

How to Apply

Applications are not being accepted at this time. Applications for the second cohorot will be accepted beginning April/May 2016.

Who can apply?

We invite applications from pastoral leaders with a strong interest in community engagement and who are serving communities along the Interstate 40 corridor in North Carolina and adjacent regions in Virginia (Greensboro, NC to Danville, VA, Winston Salem to Lexington, Ashville to Brevard, Statesville to Hickory).  All applicants should have completed the Master of Divinity or comparable degree in theological education from an ATS accredited program and served in a congregational pastoral leadership position for 5-10 years.

The first cohort began in November 2014. The second cohort will convene in 2016.

What does participation require?

Participation requires a two-year commitment, including participation in all cohort meetings (that will take place in different parts of the I-40 corridor) and in an international study tour during the second year of the program.  Each clergy participant in this initiative will receive a $3000 stipend over the life of the program. WFUSD will provide for lodging, travel and meals during all program gatherings.

The 2014-2016 cohort will meet bi-monthly, Thursday afternoons through Saturday morning, with adjustments for holidays.  Tentative meeting and international travel dates are:

November 13-16, 2014

January 14-16, 2015

March 12-14, 2015

May 7-9, 2015

August 20-22, 2015

October 15-17, 2015

January 6-16, 2016 (International travel)

March 10-12, 2016

May 26-28, 2016

Interested in applying for the 2016 cohorot? If you are interested in participating in this program, please review the information about the required letters of recommendation and complete the online application once it is available. Those whom you identify as a recommender on the application will receive a recommendation request from the program office with a direct link to the recommendation submission form.

Upon receipt of your completed application, the selection committee will schedule an interview with you so that we might learn more about your sense of vocation and passion for community ministry.  All applicants will receive notice regarding the disposition of their application in advance of the first cohort gathering.

We look forward to receiving your application!


If you are interested in this initiative and would like to nominate an outstanding clergy leader for participation in the program, please complete the online nomination form.  We will contact all nominees and invite them to begin the application process.