At the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, women and men are equipped for leadership in the church through four training programs: Training in Ministry (TRIM), Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM), Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-CoB), and district-based Academy Certified Training Systems (ACTS). The academy also offers continuing education opportunities for those who have completed seminary degrees or ministry training programs.
This year the academy is announcing three new tracks for congregations that are working to develop leadership from within their own membership, through EFSM. These tracks are offered for those congregations and their potential ministers who are working toward credentialing in the denomination’s new “commissioned minister” status.
A partnership for ministry education
The academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and its Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Offices are on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind.
Another partner is the Mennonite Education Agency, which provides many of the required courses in the Spanish-language ministry training program SeBAH-CoB. This denomination-wide certificate level program parallels the ACTS programs available to English-speaking students.
The academy staff includes executive director Julie Mader Hostetter, administrative assistant Fran Massie, TRIM and EFSM Ministry Training Programs coordinator Carrie Eikler, and Spanish-Language Ministry Training Programs coordinator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman. A number of Bethany Seminary teaching faculty also provide leadership for the academy.
New EFSM tracks
This year the academy is announcing new tracks for congregations that are working to develop leadership from within their own membership, through the Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) program. These tracks are offered for those congregations and their potential ministers who are working toward credentialing in the denomination’s new “commissioned minister” status.
Track 1 continues the EFSM program’s current format for congregations with a bi-vocational pastor, aiding that person in developing as a pastoral leader alongside lay leadership from within the congregation.
Track 2 is offered for congregations that are working to develop a group of people who will serve together as a ministry team.
Track 3 serves congregations seeking to develop pastoral leadership in a specialized ministry area such as Christian education, visitation, pastoral care, music, evangelism.
Track 4 is for Spanish-speaking congregations with a bi-vocational pastor, to aid that person in developing as a pastoral leader alongside lay leadership from within the congregation.
Continuing education offerings
A variety of continuing education options are provided in partnership with the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary as well as colleges, districts, congregations, and other agencies. Leadership from the academy, the seminary, and the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center based at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College coordinate a schedule so that courses on Church of the Brethren history, theology, and polity and practices are offered on a rotating basis in order for students and pastors to have ongoing access to these topics.
A Directed Independent Study Unit for TRIM and EFSM students is offered in conjunction with the Ministers’ Association pre-Annual Conference event. Additional annual continuing education events are the on-campus and online Clergy Tax Seminar, and insight sessions at Annual Conference.
Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar
A Camp Leaders Cohort launched in 2015 as the first cohort of the Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar. This new continuing education program offers an intensive experience with a cohort of people involved in similar work for the church.
The launch event was a retreat on Nov. 19-21, 2015, at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry and Retreat Center in Mid-Atlantic District and included six leaders from five camps. A second retreat was planned for March this year.
Upcoming cohort groups are scheduled for bi-vocational ministry and for chaplains. Those interested may contact Julie Hostetter at the Brethren Academy.
The academy by the numbers, in 2015
-- 65 students from 18 districts participated in TRIM.
-- 8 students and their supervising pastors from 6 districts participated in EFSM.
-- 2 new district TRIM coordinators, Howard Ullery of Pacific Northwest District and Andrew Wright of Southern Ohio District, were welcomed into the group of 18 coordinators. Some coordinators serve 2 districts.
-- 5 TRIM students and 3 EFSM students completed their programs, were recognized at the 2015 Annual Conference, and have now fulfilled the educational requirements for ordination consideration by their districts
-- 11 TRIM students from 7 districts participated in the summer 2015 orientation.
-- 1 residential class at Bethany Seminary, 2 classes hosted at McPherson (Kan.) College, and 4 online courses were organized by the academy. Students, pastors, and lay people participated in these offerings.
-- 12 students from Atlantic Northeast District and 6 students from Pacific Southwest District participated in SeBAH-CoB, with 1 student in Puerto Rico District continuing her program in a Mennonite and Church of the Brethren cohort.
-- 5 pastors from Atlantic Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern Pennsylvania Districts are mentors and supervising pastors for students from the “Supervision in Ministry” class held via Adobe Connect and onsite at the Atlantic Northeast District office.
-- 1,822 ministers attended the “Healthy Boundaries 201" training in ministerial ethics, with 56 sessions held in the 24 districts of the Church of the Brethren. A “Healthy Boundaries 101" webinar training also was held for 10 TRIM students and others needing the introductory training. Attending the training every 5 years is a requirement for each minister in the denomination. The trainings assured completion of the denominational ordination review for clergy in 2015.
For more information about the academy--plus new informational videos with staff outlining programs--go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy . For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-983-1824.
-- Julie Mader Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, contributed to this report.