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Resilience in Leadership Initiative FAQ
About the Resilience in Leadership Initiative
Studies show that the first 3-5 years after seminary graduation are a crucial time for clergy across the nation. During these early years, ministers are more likely to drop out of their vocations than at any other time in their ministry. Conversely, clergy who enjoy meaningful relationships with peers and mentors during this timeframe are more likely to develop resilience and enjoy greater fulfillment in their vocation.
The Resilience in Leadership Initiative at CTS offers a two-year Fellowship program empowering a diverse array of early career clergy, ministers, lay leaders, and seminary students who are from and/or serving marginalized and disenfranchised communities across the nation. Our program seeks to develop a deeper sense of meaning and community in the vocational calling of our Fellows to increase their impact and effectiveness as agents of justice and mercy in the world. To that end, we focus on three (3) main areas of relationship cultivation:
• First – all of our Program Fellows are matched into regional cohort groups facilitated by seasoned and contextual Program Mentors. These cohort groups are meant to foster community, competency, and care. Everything in our program grows outward from the foundational relationships cultivated in these regional settings.
• Second – we curate all of our programming around the specific needs of our Program Fellows. At the beginning of the fellowship opportunity, we solicit input about what types of skill-building opportunities will be most beneficial for our program participants. We then curate our entire year of programming around those specific needs.
• Third – we want to provide opportunities and resources for respite and self-care. Recognizing that self-care looks different for every individual, we expect to utilize the best of our resources to equip and facilitate self-care opportunities for all Program Fellows at the Annual Gathering in Chicago, as well as during our yearly programming.
How is the two-year Program Fellowship organized?
Our Program Fellowship involves a local, regional, national, and online dimension. We want our Program Fellows to develop trusting and meaningful relationships within their geographically-based peer group cohorts. As such, these regionally-based groups meet every spring, summer, and winter near a location in which Program Fellows live and work. We also want our Program Fellows to experience opportunities for respite and self-care. Once a year, we bring all of our Program Fellows and mentors back to CTS for an Annual Gathering retreat. We also tailor Master Class webinar workshops online throughout the year and record them so that fellows can access them on-demand, at their own convenience.
• Locally: Cohorts are meant to be places of trust, safety, and solidarity. There is no working curriculum to get through, no speeches, and no pointless meetings to attend. Program Fellows can develop professional peer-to-peer relationships with one another and their mentors in these spaces. This means our cohorts will be places for food, conversation, prayer, resourcing and care, among other things. Cohorts are comprised of 2-3 mentors and no more than 10 Program Fellows. Both mentors and Program Fellows will typically reside and minister near the location of their cohort regions. In a regular calendar year, our regional cohorts will meet three times. However, 2019 is different, given that the Resilience in Leadership Initiative began in the spring when cohorts would otherwise be meeting. This means that for the remainder of its inaugural year in 2019, our regional cohorts will only be meeting twice–once in May/June and one other time in the winter. During the second year of our Program Fellowship in 2020, all regional cohorts will meet individually in the spring, summer, and winter.
• Regionally: This year, the 2019-2020 Program Fellowship cohorts include: (1) the greater Chicagoland area, (2) North Carolina, (3) Michigan, (4) Wisconsin, and (5) New England. Each regional cohort will meet in an easily accessible location nearest to the majority of Program Fellows in that area. Cohort meeting locations will depend on the needs of those in each area. For example, if the majority of Michigan cohort members live near the southwestern part of the state, then we will facilitate a meeting space in Kalamazoo. If the majority of our members in North Carolina live all over the state, for instance, then we will facilitate a location near Charlotte since it is centrally located and easily accessible.
• Nationally: In addition to these regional cohort meetings, all Program Fellows and mentors will be invited to CTS once a year for our Annual Gathering retreat in Chicago. This year, our Annual Gathering weekend will take place in October 2019. (See more below for details.)
• Online: The Resilience in Leadership Initiative produces a skill-building Master Class webinar series throughout the year on topics entirely tailored to the inventory of needs that Program Fellows dictate at the beginning of their program. Participation in these webinars is not mandatory. Rather than requiring participants to schedule one more meeting, each Master Class webinar workshop will be recorded and posted online so that fellows can watch at their own convenience. This website also hosts a community Forum full of free resources shared by Program Fellows and Mentors. The CONNECTS Forum is meant to be a space where participants can share helpful information to anyone for free.
What is the time commitment and monetary cost for the program?
We are very much aware that the last thing clergy need is one more demand to fit into their already busy schedules. In that spirit, we have designed our yearly programming to avoid unnecessary drag on your precious time and resources. And because this is a grant funded initiative, participation in the program is free of charge.
In terms of time commitment, the most intensive part of the program happens once a year during the Annual Gathering retreat in Chicago (October 10-12, 2019). This annual meeting is mandatory and should be seen as an orientation opportunity for all participants. Fellows and Mentors will participate in a total of two (2) Annual Gatherings over the course of their program. RELI provides Program Mentors and Fellows with a travel stipend to attend our Annual Gathering. This weekend retreat is a time for self-care and learning for all program participants. It will also be a weekend of fun and fellowship! The Annual Gathering includes food and hospitality in addition to our educational programming schedule. Pulpit supply funds are available for participants that need someone to cover their absence that weekend.
There is also a time commitment involved in meeting with your regional cohort community. Regional cohorts typically meet three times throughout the year in the spring, summer, and winter seasons. However, 2019 is different, given that the Resilience in Leadership Initiative began in the spring when cohorts would otherwise be meeting. This means that for the remainder of its first year, regional cohort communities will only be meeting twice–once in May/June 2019 and one other time in the winter after our Annual Meeting (October 10-12, 2019). During the second year of our Program Fellowship in 2020, regional cohorts will meet in the spring, summer, and winter and attend our Annual Gathering that fall. Cohorts can certainly meet more often than three times a year, although this is entirely up to each cohort community. These quarterly meetings are not places for programming. Rather, they are spaces for fostering peer-to-peer relationships.
Because this is a grant-funded initiative, participation in the program is completely free. There may be some costs associated with travel to and from your regional cohort meetings, but hospitality at those events and at our Annual Gathering retreat are completely covered by the program. The total amount of travel stipend funding for each participant depends on several different factors, including how many fellows we accept this year and their locations across the country. That being said…
• CTS covers all educational materials and programming costs associated with the Program Fellowship including hospitality at these quarterly events.
• CTS provides a significant travel stipend to cover most (if not all) of each Program Mentor’s travel expenses to Chicago for the Annual Gathering. We will also cover meals, educational programming costs, and respite and self-care retreat activities for that weekend.
• CTS provides pulpit supply funding for those needing to arrange a replacement while they attend our Annual Gathering weekend.
• CTS can provide accredited CEU’s for participating as a Mentor in our program.
• CTS provides free access to our Master Class webinar series and tailors these workshops to the needs communicated to us by our Program Fellows. We also curate an online Forum for all RELI participants for the sharing of resources and educational materials.
• The Program Fellowship does not cover tuition, fees, or any other expenses associated with a seminary degree program of study. Our Program Fellowship is not a scholarship award. It is a grant funded program of continuing education.
Our aim is to make the Annual Gathering retreat as helpful as possible, so please do not hesitate to let us know about your specific needs in attending should those needs be financial or otherwise.
Who can apply to be a Program Fellow?
Our Program Fellowship is aimed at early career clergy, ministers, lay leaders, and seminary students who are serving, and/or from, marginalized and disadvantaged communities in the US. If you are a current seminary student, you are eligible to apply as long as you fit the above criteria. If you have graduated from seminary and would like to apply, you normally will have graduated in the last 5 years in order to be eligible. We especially invite applications from those of you who are in your first-placement and those who are bi-vocational. If you meet most of these criteria, we encourage you to apply even if you do not necessarily fit every pre-requisite.
• Do I need to be a church pastor or associate pastor to apply? No, you do not have to be a parish pastor or associate pastor of a church to apply to become a Program Fellow. CTS has a longstanding history of producing all kinds of religious leaders. We interpret ministry to mean many different things including parish ministry, but our Program Fellowship is not limited to those who are pastors or associate pastors of a parish church. Although some of our Program Fellows work within or alongside a denomination or church parish, others utilize their seminary training to develop new initiatives outside of a traditional parish setting. Our Program Fellowship is stronger when a diverse set of Fellows come to the table. We want every Program Fellow to learn from the experiences of others. If your own ministry meets the criteria of the Resilience in Leadership Initiative, then we want to encourage you to apply to the Program Fellowship even if you are not on staff at a parish church.
• Ordained? You do not have to be ordained to be a part of our program. We understand that ministry takes on many different forms. This means that clergy, chaplains, seminarians, non-ordained ministers, social justice workers, community organizers, staffers and faith leaders of all types can apply. If you are a leader in ministry, we encourage you to apply.
• Christian? While most of the programming may apply to the experiences and needs of Christian ministers in particular, those from non-Christian traditions may also find the Program Fellowship useful. You do not need to be Christian to apply to our program. If you are a non-Christian faith leader and fit the criteria, you are invited to apply.
• Denomination? Though CTS is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and many of our Program Fellows will be CTS alumni serving in UCC affiliated ministries, the Program Fellowship is also open to those outside of the UCC and CTS.
• What if I live outside of one of your cohort locations? You do not have to reside in a cohort region to be eligible for the Program Fellowship. However, you must reside in the continental United States to apply. You may also want to keep in mind whether it is feasible for you to travel long distances to participate in the regional cohort meetings in the spring, summer, and winter. We plan to include new cohort regions into our Program Fellowship for 2020-2022 and 2022-2024. New locations will be determined by factors such as levels of interest and numbers of applications in a given area.
What is the timeline for applications for the 2019-2020 Program Fellowship?
Final decisions for the fellowship will be announced sometime in mid to late April, 2019. We may contact applicants for an interview, though this is not guaranteed.
Where Can I Apply?
You can use our online application to become a Program Fellow HERE https://connects.ctschicago.edu/leadership-initiative/
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