Within The Wesleyan Church’s mission, the Education and Clergy Development (ECD) Division
- develops Wesleyan clergy to be healthy, fit and effective from the beginning of the call to the completion of their ministry, and
- advances Wesleyan colleges and universities to be healthy, strong and effective in the mission of educating and developing students.
Back-to-back events kicked off 2023 for ECD. From January 4-7, Wesleyan ministers and spouses joined together in worship, study, play and fellowship at The Gathering in Orlando, Florida. A church engaged in Acts 1:8 mission must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit. At this converged body of Wesleyans, whether through anointed preaching or by the poolside, God brought renewal and restoration. Themes like rhythm, health, rest and relationships carried on from The Gathering to populate monthly emails, the Thrive in Five, collated by ECD and distributed to Wesleyans.
Immediately following The Gathering, various boards of trustees members from The Wesleyan Church’s institutions of higher education convened to listen to experts and discuss as colleagues and co-laborers. Changing models of education, rising cultural pressures and God’s call to be educators were topics of presentation or conversation and spoke to the context and core of this group’s work and ministry. The Holy Spirit continues to inspire fresh vision and wisdom across our universities and in our seminary. Kingswood University President Dr. Stephen J. Lennox published A Sanctifying Context with Wesleyan Publishing House (WPH). This book provides an excellent resource to educators, administrators, recruiters and faculty.
From these conferences, church and academia leaders dispersed to continue their own contextual missional work, freshly renewed with love and vision for their own Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and beyond. Gathering and dispersing allows us to encourage and resource one another with fresh ideas and effective strategies.
After these events, ECD continued its mission of developing healthy, fit and effective clergy by offering onsite district boards of ministerial development (DBMD) roundtables and New Pastor Orientation online gatherings. These events resourced local church pastors and refined credentialing systems. The New Pastor Orientation informed participants of resources such as the Thrive Financial Initiative, which supports clergy financial wellbeing. The DBMD roundtables provided discussion space on new course requirements and the terminal status of Licensed Minister (LMP). Our universities and seminary informed and collaborated with representatives across districts to strengthen our ordination processes and practices.
In collaboration with WPH, ECD supported translation and distribution of the following resources to Hispanic pastors:
- “Vocación sagrada: Reflexiones cotidianas de clérigas” (“The Holy Calling: Daily Wisdom from Women in Ministry”)
- “La santidad para todo creyente” (“Holiness for Ordinary People”)
- “Repensar la iglesia” (“Re-Thinking Church”)
- “Doctrina Wesleyana simplificada” (“Wesleyan Doctrine Simplified”)
This translating and resourcing work will continue with the development of a Spanish version of “Full Circle: Youth Ministry that Begins and Ends with Jesus.”
Finally, in addition to these smaller onsite and online gatherings, the ECD Division promoted healthy, fit and effective clergy by supporting female preachers in the local church through initiatives and resources. In the fall, ECD celebrated female preachers (PreacHer Sunday) in September and all clergy during Pastor Appreciation Month (“We See You”) in October. While female pastors effectively preach in children’s programming, youth groups, small groups and individual local congregations in The Wesleyan Church, every local Wesleyan Church was encouraged to have females preach in September. Hundreds of churches participated, strategically engaging their churches and ministry contexts.
Likewise, we want every local church pastor to know their work does not go unseen. While ECD is intentional about seeing Wesleyan pastors, we know much of their work goes unseen by human eyes. However, every prayer offered, every confession heard and every forgiveness pronounced is seen and known by the Great Shepherd. We See You, but even more, Christ sees you.
Rev. Dr. Aaron Perry is director of Wesleyan Academic Initiatives for the Education and Clergy Development Division of The Wesleyan Church, Fishers, Indiana.