God never stops building his kingdom. He calls, equips and Unleashes his children in a Kingdom Force to reach people for Christ, multiply disciples and bring about life on earth “as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We all have the privilege of joining with God to further this mission in our lives and the world no matter our kingdom role.
In the Education and Clergy Development (ECD) Division of The Wesleyan Church (TWC), we see God working in varied and powerful ways.
Our Wesleyan schools have committed educators who teach and lead students closer to Christ. We are blessed to partner with, encourage and help equip the women and men God has called into pastoral ministry and Christian service in a myriad of professions.
ECD’s work is focused on adapting our credentialing and education requirements, processes and systems to support the equipping of lay and clergy. The new Ministerial Development Portal provides candidates and districts with information about credentialing and education requirements in one place. Education requirements are being reframed to allow increased flexibility and creativity amongst our education institutions. These changes set the stage for a ministerial education and formation experience that integrates deep biblical foundations with practical integration into church-based ministry.
Some of the changes include a newly improved and updated version of the Supervised Ministry course launched in partnership with Kingswood Extended. We are excited to see new education programs emerging to serve candidates, churches and districts well. The “Manual of Ministerial Preparation” is being updated and District Board of Ministerial Development (DBMD) forms are being revised.
ECD recently held the annual New Pastor Orientation with 46 new pastors learning more about TWC’s ethos, establishing relational connections within our headquarters’ divisions and learning more about partnering to extend the reach of God’s kingdom. Dr. Wayne Schmidt provided a personal overview of his vision for TWC.
In partnership with districts, ECD has come alongside many pastors going through personally difficult times and in need of counseling, coaching or other types of personal assistance. In 2022, the publication of a comprehensive compensation study of 1,100 Wesleyan pastors revealed the need for significant attention to clergy remuneration, ensuring our clergy are receiving adequate compensation.
ECD is engaging pastors with Peter Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course for Leaders,” helping to deepen the relational intimacy of our clergy with Jesus. The last two years of the pandemic coupled with social and political polarization have taken a great toll on our pastors. As we continue to foster a culture of wellbeing for our clergy, they will be empowered to focus more on the work they are called to do by God on behalf of others, rather than expending time, energy and emotional resources on their exhaustion, woundedness and personal needs.
ECD provides intentional support for women in ministry. This year, we began the distribution of “Thriving Together,” a monthly e-newsletter in English and Spanish to encourage women in ministry. The release of “This Holy Calling” — a devotional book written by Wesleyan women leaders for women in ministry — is another way to continue supporting our ministerial sisters. These and other upcoming initiatives offer our continued support to our female leaders.
The Thrive Financial Initiative launched two more programs that blessed our Next Gen and minority ministers. Thanks to the generosity of The Lilly Endowment, our participating ministers received more than $200,000 from both their church and the matching grants — an average of $1,500 per minister.
Due to the increasing Hispanic population, ECD’s commitment to equip our Hispanic pastors and ministerial students with the necessary resources to serve God is growing. We have been working with Wesleyan Publishing House to provide two more resources in Spanish that we are certain will be of great help to our Hispanic ministers.
God never stops building his kingdom. ECD is honored to have served shepherds in fulfilling this mission in 2022 and looks forward to journeying with them in 2023.
Rev. Johanna Chacón Rugh is the executive director of the Education and Clergy Development Division of The Wesleyan Church.
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