Clergy find strength for the journey

By Janet Ober Lambert

Strength for the Journey (SFTJ) is a continuing education opportunity provided by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a collaboration of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry.

SFTJ provides support to groups of ministers to help them meet and discuss topics of mutual interest and gather for worship and prayer. Four groups or “cohorts” formed in January 2023. Each of these cohorts, which meet via Zoom, is led by a skilled convener who helps to guide the conversation. (An earlier, in-person cohort of clergywomen will conclude three years together this July.)

Each of the 2023 cohorts has a unique focus. One cohort of chaplains is gathering around the unique challenges of serving in long-term care or hospice facilities. A second cohort is focused on interim ministry. Another is made up of pastors whose attention is on pastoral care. And the fourth consists of women who serve as district executive ministers. The goal of SFTJ is to provide support and foster growth for all who minister in the Church of the Brethren.

Supporting each cohort is a skilled convener who manages resources, coordinates logistics, and, most importantly, holds safe and sacred space for their cohort. The 2023 SFTJ conveners bring a wealth of skills and ministry experience. They are Connie Burkholder (McPherson, Kan.), Martha Beahm (Columbia, S.C.), Christy Dowdy (Rockingham, Va.), and John Fillmore (Caldwell, Idaho). Dave Kerkove (Waterloo, Iowa) serves as an alternate. The cohorts, along with their conveners, will meet 10 to 12 times over the year.

Please pray… For all the clergy who are participating in, and those who are leading the Strength for the Journey initiative.

New cohorts will form for 2024, with new topics. Details and applications can be found on the Brethren Academy webpage and at the Bethany booth at Annual Conference in Cincinnati in early July. Questions can be directed to Janet Ober Lambert at or 765-983-1820.

Strength for the Journey is funded by the David J. and Mary Elizabeth Wieand Trust, through Bethany Theological Seminary and the Church of the Brethren. There is no cost for registration or participation.

— Janet Ober Lambert is director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.


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