What makes for a healthy transition from seminary to full-blown pastoral ministry? New church responsibilities in a first-call setting can be daunting. Isolated from professional peers, stripped of seminary support systems, and facing leadership challenges that never make it into a textbook, new pastors may quickly find parish ministry to be an experience of bewildering panic.
The St. Paul Pastoral Residency Program allows for a beautiful transition from seminary to congregational ministry. Program participants deepen their pastoral self-understanding while developing sturdy pastoral practices and wise habits that shape one for a lifetime.
Gifted new pastors who are in their final year of seminary and/or pursuing their first call are invited to apply for this stimulating opportunity. Through seminars that explore excellence in ministry, dive into contemporary and classical literature, undertake special projects, and offer generous feedback, pastoral residents combine continued learning with a full platter of pastoral responsibilities. Much like the design behind its medical residency counterpart, this program is not a remedial program for struggling new pastors. It’s a rich experiential learning setting for gifted young ministers who are eager to make significant contributions to the larger church. The ultimate goal of the program is to grow the pastoral wisdom of individuals who will then take their gifts far beyond St. Paul to shape healthy congregations for the rest of their lives.
Resident pastors encounter all the important facets of congregational life during these two special years. They’re fully integrated into the pastoral team — preaching, teaching, leading communion, baptizing, marrying, conducting funeral services, and much more. In moments of sorrow and celebration, in weekly worship, and in daily life, they walk the road of faith together as pastors and people. A full-time salary with benefits is paid.
The program design
The structure of the Pastoral Residency Program promotes personal growth that builds on each pastor’s interests and skills. Far different from an internship, this program looks for pastors who are full professionals, eager and capable of leading in significant ways.
A couple times each month, the pastors gather in a seminar setting and give sharp focus to healthy pastoral practices. Pastor Peter Marty guides the cohort, focusing on the art of pastoral leadership, the culture of a congregation, and a host of theological and administrative issues. Peter’s insights and feedback integrate theology with the practical realities of daily ministry.
Academically, resident pastors read and consider significant books, articles, and topics in the midst of their daily ministry assignments and projects. Discussion helps shape teaching, preaching, church leadership, and caring for souls. The experience is a creative one that models the importance of lifelong learning throughout ministry.
Resident pastors are integrated into all facets of St. Paul’s pastoral work. They also encounter every aspect of congregational life in a multi-disciplinary way through their daily work alongside the entire church staff: worship planning and leadership, evangelism, communication, financial management, strategic planning, personnel guidance, adult discipleship, mission outreach, music, children and youth ministries, pastoral care, counseling, and more.
Special attention is given to collegiality, continuing education opportunities, and special projects in areas of interest identified by each resident pastor.
Funded by an innovative grant
In 2005, the Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis approached St. Paul to lead this innovative program for guiding new pastors. St. Paul is a nationally-recognized teaching congregation with a talented and engaging staff. In the last eight decades alone, 47 members of the congregation have entered ordained ministry. The congregation is a proud and enthusiastic financial supporter of ELCA seminaries.
St. Paul is privileged to be the only Lutheran church in the country currently hosting a Pastoral Residency Program. The church’s first pastoral residents arrived in 2006. Seminary students in their final year, or recent graduates who are candidates for ordained ministry, are welcome to apply. The highest consideration will be given to those who show strong promise for congregational leadership. Applications will be accepted beginning in Fall 2021, with an application deadline of December 31, 2021. Applicants will be notified by mid-January 2022.
Download: Residency program brochure
Download: Residency application
Pastoral residency: Beth Laureijs