At a recent national orientation gathering for The Company of New Pastors, seminary students from six Presbyterian seminaries, Austin, Columbia, Dubuque, Pittsburgh, Princeton and Union, along with Fuller Seminary, were encouraged to faithfully follow Jesus in their vocation of pastoral ministry.
Charles Wiley, associate director of Theology Worship and Education, encouraged the gathering of 75 students and their faculty mentors to “learn how to follow Jesus together,” and as pastors “to help others follow Jesus together.” Wiley said, “We believe if you practice the spiritual disciplines of daily prayer and scripture reading in community, with mentors, doing theological reflection together, they will sustain you for a lifetime of ministry.”
Wiley told the seminarians over the next five years approximately $250,000 will be invested in them through the General Assembly Mission Council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), thanks to the generosity of the Lilly Foundation and many other passionate individuals. “We are really committed to who you are, to what you will become and do in ministry.”
Wiley challenged the students, who are in their final year of studies, to let the covenant groups they’ve joined shape their pastoral vocation. “Allow your peers and mentors to call you out on the carpet. Tell each other the truth. Let go of having to be perfect. You will find you will be able practice the disciplines together much more faithfully.”
These newest Company of New Pastors covenant groups, which began in the spring, will study the ordination questions together over the next few months. “Do you trust in Jesus Christ, acknowledge him as Lord of all and head of the church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” Wiley asked. “That’s a big question even for those of us who have been in ministry for a long time. Allow spiritual disciplines, community, mentoring and theological reflection to give you depth as you make your promises to live out your pastoral vocation faithfully.”
Wiley closed the gathering with an inspirational story told to him by Fuller professor Mark Labberton about International Justice Mission founder Gary Haugen. As a 10-year-old boy, he was on a trip to Mount Rainier with his two brothers and his father. They were about to climb to Camp Muir, the base camp for those going to the summit, but Haugen stayed behind in the visitor’s center because he was afraid.
Wiley challenged those present to leave the “visitor’s center” of ministry and move out into the reality of ministry, knowing that they have a strong foundation of prayer, scripture and reflection, as well as a community of support.
The Company of New Pastors is a transition-into-ministry program administered by the Office of Theology and Worship and supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. The program beginsin the last year of seminary and continues for four years after graduation, offering the support of covenant groups dedicated to the practice of daily prayer, daily Scripture reading and regular theological reflection. To learn more about how to support the Company of New Pastors, click here.