This project explores what it means for urban congregations to thrive in the midst of collective trauma. As ministers increasingly find themselves as first-responders and their churches as safety-nets to trauma, this project equips them to consider this work in light of their congregational mission. This program is organized to assist urban congregations in developing models of trauma-responsive care that are deeply integrated into the mission of their congregations and that draw from the organic resources of congregational life. Fifteen congregations in three major cities -- Boston, Atlanta, and San Diego -- will undertake a process of examining their congregational life through a framework of trauma that integrates psychologically oriented research about trauma with theologically grounded analysis of what it means to live faithfully in the midst of trauma. An educational team composed of theological, clinical, and community chaplaincy educators has joined congregational task forces to form a collaborative learning network that generates theologically robust and innovative responses to trauma. Through various stages of education, mentoring, and on-site conversations, participants design projects that guide their communities in exploring their mission with greater attunement to the trauma impacting churches, both internally and externally.
Many Hispanic Baptist congregations serve in a ministry setting with a unique set of challenges that include varying immigrant generations, diverse language usage, and rapidly changing cultural needs. In response to these challenges, the Iglesias Abundantes Initiative was created. Iglesias Abundantes provides an opportunity for Hispanic Baptist churches to utilize a congregational learning experience to engage each other and the challenges that they face. Over a period of five years, up to 50 Hispanic congregations have the opportunity to participate. At the exploration retreats, participants learn about the congregational learning experience, explore the social and cultural challenges they face, and begin their work to clearly define their challenge. Next comes a series of facilitated monthly experiences that lead them through the phases of challenge, exploration, and discovery, all with culturally contextualized interactive learning opportunities, resources, and tracking on the progress of their congregational journey. The congregations reconvene for their implementation retreat. Here they are trained on the implementation of their congregation's customized Abundante Plan. Upon approval, each congregation can receive up to $9,000 as an Abundante Stipend to resource and execute their congregational plan.
Faith Matters Network equips faith leaders, community organizers, and civic change agents with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment. It creates brave spaces and moments of learning to support people to sustain themselves and their communities from a place of spirit, creativity, and courage. The Brave Space Learning Communities Initiative creates opportunities for local congregations to connect, learn, and grow alongside community and civic leaders in order to sustain movements for social healing, bridge social differences meaningfully and with courage, and steward a growing ecosystem of spiritual innovation for a changing world. Building on Faith Matters Network's model of convening transformative spaces for faith leaders both in-person and online, the Brave Space Learning Communities Initiative creates ecumenical communities of practice for congregations in three tracks: Bridging Divides Through Brave Space, Movement Chaplaincy for the Future, and Connecting Spiritual Innovators.
The Congregational Faith and Learning Center at Hood Theological Seminary (TCFLC) aims to provide training and faith engagement directly to congregations in the community by being a place to "educate, empower, and equip” congregations. Today, congregations and churches are dealing with changes in spiritual discipleship, church attendance, age demographic concerns, cultural changes, social media growth, technology advances, immigration issues, variations in Christian practices, increasing millennials, elderly care, child care delivery, social justice issues, and liturgical programmatic changes, just to note a few of the concerns. Using a strategic planning learning model, TCFLC develops congregational coaches, offers hands-on training to various congregational members and leaders, gathers congregational research information, and identifies congregational best practices to put into action. The focus includes improving congregations in three key areas: congregational internal stability, congregational external relationship engagement, and congregational mission and ministry excellence. An advisory board of denominational leaders, bishops, congregational leaders, community leaders, and pastors assist in identifying thriving and non-thriving congregations and congregation leaders, and they are trained as congregational coaches and facilitators. TCFLC started with 25 congregational cohorts in Western North Carolina (WNC) with model coaching, experiential learning, and improved traditional learning efforts, which are proven methods for effective adult learning. TCFLC will continue to expand throughout North Carolina and the Southeast, working with upwards of 100 congregations over five years.
Instituto Fe y Vida is a Catholic, nimble, and strategic ministry founded in 1994 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers and a group of Hispanic pastoral professionals. Its mission is to equip pastoral ministers, young adult leaders, and parents for the evangelization of young Catholic Latinos. The purpose of the Thriving Catholic Parishes Program is to help parishes with a significant Latino population to thrive, thanks to a dynamic, integrative, and continuous ministry with young people, including parishioners from other ethnic groups. The TCP has three stages: preparation, implementation, and groundwork for sustainability. A core team, a leadership team, and the broader parish community, particularly parents, will participate in processes leading to: (a) assessing external and internal social and cultural changes that impact the community; (b) revitalizing ministry with young people to nurture their human and Christian development as they take on an active role and leadership in the parish; and (c) developing a pastoral plan with clear parish values, priorities, goals, and organizational restructuring to achieve them. In year four of the grant, a national convocation with delegates from the parishes in the cohorts, national leaders, and members of Fe y Vida’s pastoral team will gather the learning community to enhance the TCP and export best practices.