Young pastors need support that, in my experience, goes beyond what our respective denominations can provide. And while the advice and friendship of trusted mentors is indispensable, I believe strongly that young clergy face particular challenges that make our meeting together for prayer, fellowship, and mutual support necessary. There are, I’m sure, many places where this is possible, but I want to recommend one to you: the First Parish Project at the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, NC (think the corner of NC, GA, and TN). Designed for clergy under 35 serving their first churches, I’ve met outstanding people in this program and it has meant the world to me. My group has young clergy from many denominations, including Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Nazarene, and A.M.E, drawn from Connecticut to Alaska.
One thing we all appreciate is that this program forces much-needed time away from the parish, where we recharge with worship and get refocused on our calling as ministers. Best of all, it is funded by the Lilly Endowment, so compared to many programs it is quite affordable. I’d be happy to answer any questions, but for now, here’s an aerial shot of the facility, nestled in the mountains of Western NC on a lake:
Burnout is a major problem for all pastors, especially those of the young and idealistic variety. Do yourself a favor – check out the First Parish Project.