Bethany Congregations Pilot Project Update

We are excited to share that our first Bethany Congregations Retreat in June was a nourishing unfolding of connection and purpose. Congregations from Arizona and Missouri sent pastors and lay leaders to support their work on contemplative resilience.  Foothills Christian Church and National Avenue Christian Church are pilot congregations intentionally seeking to advance their efforts regarding racial equity using the Bethany Way to support them.  These congregations joined Bethany Congregations Leaders Rev. Dara Cobb Lewis, Rev. John Meyers, Rev. Kim Ryan and Bethany Board Member Rev. Herb Lynskey.  We are still accepting congregations into this first cohort focusing on anti-racism and are also open to supporting congregations in work intentions that may not be directly related to anti-racism work (climate resilience, open and affirming, poverty or other justice work).  

Bethany Congregations is a 2-year process including 4 retreats (two in person, two virtual) that follows four major movements, are all infused with Bethany Practices.

  1. Sabbath- Remembering what matters most

  2. Awareness- Listening to God around you-Attending to what matters most around you

  3. Discernment-Moving toward God’s stirring

  4. Action- Co-Creating with God

 If you are interested in learning more, click here or schedule a call with Scott,   

Download the Application here.

Bethany Congregations Pilot Ministry Application 9_2021

And or Download more information here.

Bethany Congregations Pilot Cohort- Additional Information PDF

Section Title

the 2-year process will include 4 retreats (two in person, two virtually) that will follow four major movements that are all infused with Bethany Practices.

  1. Sabbath- Remembering what matters most

  2. Awareness- Listening to God around you-Attending to what matters most around you

  3. Discernment-Moving toward God’s stirring

  4. Action- Co-Creating with God

The graphic below shows the movement of the two years from Sabbath to Action, includes practices of the Bethany Way in black lettering encircling the outside.  We imagine that many of these practices will be experienced regularly during retreat or meetings.  

The three concentric circles, Trio, Depth, Breadth indicate the people involved with the Bethany Congregations model.  

Trio is made up of a Bethany affiliated pastor and two lay leaders, 

Depth are the passionate/interested congregational participants

Breadth includes the greater congregation or community.  

The practices outlined in the Trio section are what we seek to offer to the Trio (in addition to the Bethany Way) during retreats and meetings.  We will be in discernment with congregations regarding which practices if any will move into the greater life of the congregation.  You can find an explanation regarding how this might look in this document.  Bethany Ripples into Congregation

Spring 2022 Retreat

Our Spring 2022 retreat in Mundelein, IL was a joyful and meaningful reunion! 60 Ecumenical and Disciple Fellows gathered simultaneously for our first in-person retreat in over two years, which included worship, wise practice conversations with Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund (Bethany alum and current Board member) and Rev. Julian DeShazier (Bethany alum), sustaining and renewing contemplative practices, and perhaps the most meaningful of all - reconnecting with friends, colleagues and mentors. We have deeply missed the heartfelt conversations around a dinner table and long walks, sharing life and ministry together in ways that virtual retreats couldn't replicate. 

"It’s been 2 and a half years since our last in-person Bethany Fellows retreat, and it was a celebration to be together again. I’m grateful for the time to laugh, to breathe, for silence to wander around in. It’s a gift to be surrounded with friends who I love and who show up in all of this with me. Shoutout to a week in “Chicago” for filling my spirit and for being a place to celebrate the goodness." 

- Rev. Daniel Lyvers, First Christian Church,  Bowling Green, KY

"Thankful to God for rest, retreat, mentorship, and friendship at @thebethanyfellows retreat this week." 

-Rev. Katherine Wright, First Christian Church, McKinney TX

Announcing the new

Bethany Congregations Pilot Project

Applications are due November 4th! More information can be found here and a PDF form of the application is here.

As congregations and clergy respond to the needs of communities across the nation, Bethany Fellows provides resources and circles of support to inspire and sustain them. In 2020, as faith communities boldly responded to the pandemics of COVID-19, financial uncertainty, and systemic racism, Bethany Fellows increased support of young clergy & alumni by offering Technology Seed Grants and Beloved Community Seed Grants. Alongside those new initiatives, we also began to discern the formation of a new Bethany Fellows community to deepen our support of congregational leadership teams.
"Bethany Congregations" is a new Bethany Fellowships ministry designed to invite congregational teams, including their Bethany Alumni pastors, into discernment and action over two years around a specific core issue, through continuing practice of the “The Bethany Way.”  
Each cohort of ten congregations will move through a two-year cycle of annual retreats and regular virtual gatherings that are simple and spacious by design, offering intentional practices of listening, vulnerability, trust, creativity, contemplative silence/prayer, cohort groups, and relationship-building. In the months between retreats, participants will engage in check-in conversations with wise practice leaders and cohort groups to maintain momentum and accountability. 

With a leadership team including

Rev. Dr. Dara Cobb Lewis (Bethany alum and Bethany Disciple Group Leader) 
Rev. Dr. John Myers (Bethany Ecumenical Group Leader), 

and spiritual directors & authors Rev. Chad Abbott and Rev. Teresa Blythe

Bethany Congregations will intentionally accompany congregational leadership teams seeking to make transformative impacts in their church and local communities. 

We offer special thanks to lead donors, Nancy Fuchs and Dr. Phil Schoo, members of Broadway Christian Church (Disiples of Christ) in Columbia, MO.  We are grateful for Phil & Nancy's generous support of the clergy served by the Bethany Fellows ministry, and their steadfast belief in the power of congregations to be forces for good in the world.

Stay tuned for more information as we continue to develop this new Bethany circle! For more information, contact Bethany Congregations Director/Pastor, Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri:

Technology Grants: 

Congregations Taking The Next Step To Share the Gospel

How are Bethany Fellows pastors responding to the chaos of a global pandemic?

With courageous creativity and spiritually grounded fortitude. 

Few of us imagined the magnitude and length of the impact a tiny virus could have on our daily routines as a whole society. However, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, communities who have been worshiping together in their sanctuaries for centuries pivoted into virtual spaces for worship and ministry.

“Before COVID-19, our congregation was hesitant to introduce new forms of technology during worship. Now, our community is very open to new ways of worshiping and connecting virtually. We are very thankful for Bethany Fellows, and the financial and relational support. It couldn’t have come at a better time!”

-Rev. Amanda Kerr, 

St. Paul’s Christian Church, Raleigh NC

“Words cannot adequately describe what a big deal this technology installation is for a congregation that is 178 years old and that has been worshiping in the same sanctuary since the Civil War era.”

-Rev. Haley Asberry

Wabash Christian Church, Wabash IN

Co-Director/Pastors, Rev. Kim Gage Ryan and Rev. Melanie Harrell Delaney, witnessed early in March how the technological know-how and courageous energy of young clergy rose to the surface as they led their congregations across the country into uncharted territory. They also saw the tremendous amount of energy being lost to time-consuming wrestling with outdated or nonexistent technology. Young pastors were on the long road to burn-out, if nothing changed soon. So, with the help of generous donors and the imagination of a dedicated Board, The Bethany Fellowships, Inc. launched the first Technology Grant initiative.

This $25,000 initiative has provided grants of up to $1,000 for current Bethany Fellows and their congregations to take the next step in imagining a fruitful digital ministry for the future of the church. With the help of Tech Consultants, Rev. Ryan Otto (Bethany Ecumenical Group Leader) and Rev. Nick Larson (Bethany Disciple Alum), congregations found help clarifying what “authentic” virtual worship would look like for their particular congregation, as well as practical knowledge to identify specific tools and equipment that would help them achieve their goals. From laptops and video cameras to updated internet access and training for volunteers, 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.

“As a solo-ish pastor, I have not had a Sunday off since the pandemic began. Rolling Oaks Christian Church put the Technology Grant through Bethany Fellows toward the purchase of a new laptop with editing software...we now have the flexibility to train more lay leaders to serve through this A/V ministry. This will allow me time for well as allow others to serve the church in ways they could not before! We at ROCC are so grateful for the donors that enabled this grant, as well as the Board, leadership, and all whose work and vision brought it to fruition!” 

-Rev. Sara Nave Fisher

Rolling Oaks Christian Church, San Antonio, TX

Although the pandemic continues to affect communities of faith across the globe, we are grateful to bear witness to the continuing creative courage of Bethany Fellows pastors, both current participants and alumni. For these pastors and their congregations, the Bethany Way of sustaining spiritual practices, support and wisdom from beloved mentors and colleagues, and creative imagining is transforming virtual space into sacred sanctuary.

“Just like many other churches, First Christian Church McKinney found themselves pushed into the ‘Digital Reformation’...We would like to sincerely thank Bethany Fellows and the donor who provided the grant for the opportunity to enhance our digital worship experience. Now only are we able to provide a quality worship while practicing social distancing, but we have transformed the reach of our community to include so many more people.”

-Rev. Katherine Wright, 

First Christian Church, McKinney TX

“During this time it has been important for us to continue to bring the good news of Christ Jesus to not only our immediate community but to the wider Church as well. We have seen tremendous growth in participation and engagement during worship and other ministries, and we attribute that to the ways this grant has helped our ministries become accessible to inter-generational households and others who may not have previously been capable of joining us...During this time in our world, bringing the good news in real time is important and faithful work. I am so grateful for the ways Bethany has partnered with The Park to make this work possible.”

-Rev. Stephanie Kendell,

Park Avenue Christian Church, New York, NY

TEchNology Grant Impact

Rev. Matthew Silvers (Lee's Summit Christian Church), shares the impact of a Technology Grant for their congregation's ministry