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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  |  eccl@wfu.edu

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.

How to 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.

We will convene two cohorts, the first beginning in November 2014 and a second in 2016.  We are accepting applications for the first cohort at this time. 

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

If you are interested in participating in this program, please review the information about the required letters of recommendation and complete the online application. 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.