Bethany Congregations, a ministry of the Bethany Fellows, offers opportunities for congregations to accompany one another in the Bethany Way. The first cohort of congregations in the Bethany Congregations Ministry will specifically include congregations discerning and moving toward action of building the Beloved Community: addressing systemic racism, building relationships, empowering racially marginalized communities and/or fostering multiracial communication in order to galvanize unified and resilient spiritual movements within church communities. Our common intention will be focused on anti-racism work.
Retreats and virtual gatherings will include:
Key Issue Training and Wisdom: including general support, specific training and access to key resources, and exploration of wise practices regarding equity and justice.
Adapted Spiritual Practices: Each cohort will practice and explore spiritual practices that are part of the overall Bethany Way (creativity, listening, vulnerability, shared meals, contemplative prayer, shared trust), which form the rootedness in faith that then supports and strengthens action.
Support and Care for Clergy: intentional connection, support and spiritual care.
Congregational Spiritual Directors/Leaders: Including ordained clergy who are also trained spiritual directors, who will walk alongside and offer guidance to participating congregations.
Ministry Seed Grants: Each Congregation will be awarded a cohort grant that will allow for greater creativity and partnership and may seed resources for future innovations and practice.
Each congregation will include at least 3 participants - the pastor (a Bethany Fellowships alum who has completed an initial 4-years as part of the Bethany Fellowships retreat and mentor-based model), plus two congregational leaders. Where possible, it may be helpful to include diversity within trios to foster greater depth, trust, and united resolve.
We will introduce and encourage the idea of a three-fold cord of spiritual agreement with the leadership core from each congregation. This core trio will lead the steps to take the learning process into their congregation, modeling systemic trust and the process of spiritual agreement with other leaders and the congregation as a whole. Congregational teams will engage in a two-year intentional rhythm of awareness, reflection, discernment and action.
For more information, contact Bethany Congregations Director, Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri: Scott@bethanyfellows.org
Bethany Congregations Leadership Team
Rev. Dr. John T. Myers is currently serving as the Minister of Church Affairs for the Eastern Virginia Association of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ assuming the position full time as of January 1st of 2014. His most recent position was as pastor of Corinth Chapel United Church of Christ in Suffolk, Virginia where he served with distinction since 2007. He is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and currently resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife of 30 years, Angela. As Minister for Church Affairs, his responsibilities include being the “pastor to pastors” of the forty-four churches of the Eastern Virginia Association in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. His most recent educational accomplishment is the completion of the Doctor of Ministry Degree in Preaching from Chicago Theological Seminary. His call is to make disciples of men, women and children by preaching and teaching the Word of God. His life’s mission is to empower Christian believers to exercise their spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to be instruments of service to God going into all the world performing ministries of outreach, reconciliation and healing as God has ordained.
Dara Cobb Lewis
Rev. Dr. Dara Cobb Lewis is a Bethany Fellows Alum and current leader with the Bethany Disciple Fellows. She is ordained through the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Dara received her Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary and her Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Her doctoral work looked at the use of ancient spiritual practices for the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Dara serves as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director based in Belmont, NC. Through her ministry, The Devoted Life, she finds great joy in helping others find shalom (the peace and wholeness that God has in store for each of us). As a North Carolina Certified Practicing Pastoral Counselor, Dara serves clients by taking an integrative approach using the behavioral sciences combined with spirituality, theology and the person’s religious experience to work towards health and wholeness. As a spiritual director, she participates in an ancient practice of accompanying another on his or her quest to a deeper relationship with God. This involves holy listening, often quietness, sometimes laughter, other times tears and an opportunity to grow and deepen one’s spiritual life and attunement to God.
Rev. Herb Lynskey
Interim Pastor, Fort Worth, TX
Retired Clergy, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Teresa Blythe
Rev. Teresa Blythe serves as a spiritual director for individuals and groups, as a discernment facilitator, leading workshops and keynoting conferences on various aspects of contemplative Christian spirituality.
Teresa graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2000 and founded the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Directon, housed at First United Church of CHrist in downtown Phoenix. She has served as spiritual director and facilitator with young adult mission volunteers for the Presbyterian CHurch (USA) nationally and for the Tucson Borderlands.
Teresa is the co-author of "Incline Your Ear: Cultivating Spiritual Awakening in Congregations", and author of "50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times."
Bethany Congregations Project Director
Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri is an alumn of the Bethany Fellowship and director of the Bethany Congregations Pilot Project. He is an ordained pastor with the Christian Church (DOC) He is now serving as Associate Minister for Green Chalice. He has joined the Green Chalice team to coordinate the partnership work with Blessed Tomorrow. Scott has served as a pastor with Heart of the Rockies Christian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as DOC and Presbyterian congregations in Texas. Scott attended Texas A&M University (Whoop!) and holds a Master of Divinity and a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Scott enjoys accompanying people during transformative experiences, whether in worship, spiritual direction, sharing stories, work trips, live music concerts, camps or retreats. He continues to be reminded of his name as “beloved child of God” most clearly in the forests, oceans and deserts and seeks to invite faith communities into conversations regarding creation. He is most alive when playing outside with his partner, Becca, and their two children, Olivia and Nicholas.