about bethany Fellows..


Preparing to lead

Since 1999 Bethany Fellows has served congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by helping newly ordained, young pastors transition from seminary to sustained congregational ministry with a strong and healthy pastoral identity. In the Fall of 2014 we launched a Bethany Ecumenical group. 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." 


"Bethany Fellows is a worthwhile companion for a life in pastoral ministry. Second only to my seminary education, Bethany Fellows provided me the tools necessary to sustain spiritual and emotional health through the ups and downs of congregational life. I found the Bethany Fellows experience is learning best practices from master teachers; it is reinforcing Sabbath rhythms; and it is creating a network of peers—friends with whom you share this wonderful journey of pastoral ministry. With accountability and encouragement, Bethany Fellows motivates me to live into my potential. I am where I am; doing the work I do, largely because of Bethany Fellows."


Rev. Ryan Arnold, Sr. Minister at First Christian Church, Des Moines, IA, Bethany Fellows Alumni

Learn more...

  • What is Bethany Fellows?

    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.

  • What is the mission of bethany Fellows?

    Bethany Fellows serves congregations by assisting newly ordained pastors in their transition from seminary to sustained congregational ministry with a strengthened, healthy pastoral identity.

  • How does Bethany Fellows connect with Disciples?

    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.

  • Who is a Bethany Fellow?

    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.

  • How does Bethany Fellows work?

    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.

  • How does someone become a Bethany Fellow?

    The first step is to contact our Director— Rev. Kim Gage Ryan. Send Kim an email at kim@bethanyfellows.org or call her 573-489-2729.

  • Who leads this work?

    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, a career Associate Minister is the Director. Rev. Don Schutt, pastor, hospital chaplain and CPE supervisor, is the Founding Director. Dr. Gary Straub with substantial Senior ministry and interim ministry experience completes the directing team.