by Marian McClure Taylor,
Executive Director, Kentucky Council of Churches
The Bethany Fellows program supports ministers in those early years of service when they are most likely to burn out and leave the ministry. It was pioneered by the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and is funded by the Lilly Endowment.
Now the program is “going ecumenical” and will no longer be exclusively for Disciples clergy.
The program structure is two 5-day retreats throughout the year for a total of 8 retreats per participant. The week is filled with small group processing with participants’ peers and seasoned mentors, site visits to congregations doing excellent ministry, a 24 hour silent sabbath, and a great deal of prayer.
It is a national program, so all clergy in congregations and chaplaincies in all denominations across the country, within those first 5 years of serving, are eligible. The mentors are dispersed throughout the country. Rev. Kim Gage Ryan (located in Missouri) is the executive director and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Robyn Bles, a Bethany Fellow serving at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington KY, says, “If you know of any clergy serving a congregation or in chaplaincy and are still within those first 5 years, I hope you'll pass along this invitation to them. I cannot speak more highly of Bethany Fellows. It not only steeped my first years of ministry in love, support, and prayer, but it transformed my daily practice of ministry. I'm so thrilled that they're making it ecumenical as I think forming these prayerful colleagues in ministry is just what the Church needs.”