Bethany Fellows Technology Grants have lessened the burden of logistics for young pastors and their congregations,
so that the impact and light of their creativity and passion in sharing the Good News of the Gospel can shine across generations and state-lines, growing and reaching more people than ever before.
We are also excited to announce additional Technology Grants available for Bethany Fellows Alumni, as well as new
to support congregations and young clergy who are "praying with our feet" and building communities of love and justice.
"Bethany Fellows is a deep breath, when I most need it. It’s a foundation of friendship found in a community of colleagues. It’s the guidance, wisdom, and compassion from experienced mentors. It’s the saving grace at every turn of my ministry. As a Fellow, it saved me as I floundered, early in my ministry. As an alumna, it continues to buoy and inspire me as I have learned to stretch, grow, and flourish in shared ministry with my church, my deeply gifted fellow pastors, and most of all, with God. This is one of the greatest gifts shared with me through Bethany – I heard my call from God, and Bethany Fellows helped me learn how to live that call within and alongside God. Through the simple practices of sabbath, community support, and seeking guidance of others, I learned to find God accompanying me, loving me, supporting me throughout it all. And now, as a minister, it is my great joy to share that truth with the people I am called to serve. Thank you, Bethany Fellows, for ministering to me, so I might minister with others."
Rev. Robyn M. Bles, Senior Minister, Wakonda Christian Church, Des Moines, Iowa
Bethany Fellows is a mentoring and spiritual leadership ministry for young clergy in their first four years of congregational service. Originally based on a grant through the generosity of the Lilly Endowment, this work has now been extended as an ongoing response to the need for bright, healthy and spiritually savvy clergy to meet the challenges of today's and tomorrow’s church and building a cadre of leaders for the wider church as well.
Bethany Fellows serves congregations by assisting newly ordained pastors in their transition from seminary to sustained congregational ministry with a strengthened, healthy pastoral identity.
While the Bethany Fellows model is now also serving ecumenically as a pattern for healthy spiritual development, we were chartered to serve young Disciple ministers. Our fiduciary accountabilities are through Community Christian Church/KC and the Christian Church Foundation.
A Bethany Fellow is a newly ordained pastor serving in their first call and transitioning from seminary student to congregational minister. Some serve in youth minister or associate minister roles; some as solo pastors or senior pastors; still others are new church start pastors.
Currently there are 64 Bethany Fellows (+ over 100 Alums) forming a cadre of leaders who are beneficiaries of a four-year leadership network connection which extends for a lifetime.
Through a series of retreats, strategically scheduled every 6 months, a total of 8 retreats over 4 years (40 days!), Fellows build upon their seminary experience and theological education in prayer practices and spiritual disciplines, which sustain the soul for a life-time of parish life. Each retreat experience contains worship, solitude, and multiple learning components tailored to the emerging needs of their congregations. The retreat includes a site visit to cutting-edge congregations that stimulates fresh creativity for at-home ministry. Monthly coaching sessions hone their ability to read congregational systems, make appropriate interventions, sustain inner vision, and inspire those around them while discovering effective networking skills.
Mentoring and accountability is offered by teams of experienced pastors. The mix of 15 leaders includes a new church start pastor, associate pastor, regional and general church ministers, seminary leaders and senior ministers. Together they share +185 years of collective congregational experience. Relationships of trust, practical wisdom and depth create a positive spiritual matrix for a life-time of discipleship and leadership.
Rev. Kim Gage Ryan and Rev. Melanie Harrell Delaney currently serve as Co-Director/Pastors of Bethany Fellows. Rev Kim Gage Ryan is a career-associate minister and Rev. Melanie Harrell Delaney has served as both solo and lead pastor. Rev. Don Schutt, pastor and hospital chaplain, is the Founding Director. Dr. Gary Straub with substantial senior ministry and interim ministry experience completes the directing team.
Since 1999 Bethany Fellows has served congregations by helping newly ordained, young pastors transition from seminary to sustained congregational ministry with a strong and healthy pastoral identity. Our ministry began by serving congregations in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In the Fall of 2014 we launched a Bethany Ecumenical group and have since served congregations in the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Church of the Brethren, Baptist, and Metropolitan Community Churches. See our video above created by Bethany Leader/alum Elizabeth Myer, award winning SALT Project director.
Through the collegial support of peers and mentor/leaders, young ministers are better able to navigate the beginnings of a vocation and young adult life transitions. While on retreat the Fellows are engaged in spiritual practices as well as visits with dynamic congregations, fueling creativity and insights to share with their congregations, building confidence and strengthening their leadership. Ecumenical Bethany Fellow Mark Winters, Sr. Minister of First Congregational UCC, Naperville IL affirms, "I don't think I could've guessed how grateful I would be for Bethany Fellows -- for the relationships, the authenticity, the prayer, the ability to just be. It is definitely my sabbath, which grounds and me and feeds me. Bethany Fellows has become a community of sustenance for me, giving me exactly what I needed from colleagues and mentors -- less drama, and more Jesus."