Pathways to Ministry

A teaching congregation.

Wilshire encourages followers of Christ to listen for the call to vocational ministry. We want children, youth and young adults to view a calling to ministry as equally significant as a calling to medicine, law or business. Pathways to Ministry is our initiative to nurture the work of the Holy Spirit within the lives of those considering a calling to vocational ministry.

Wilshire’s Pastoral Residency Program

The pastoral residency program at Wilshire has become a nationally recognized model for excellence in clergy preparation. Wilshire identifies as a “teaching congregation,” just as some hospitals are teaching hospitals with medical residents. 

While the training offered in seminaries and divinity schools focuses on academic and biblical knowledge, what’s often missing is practical teaching about the work of the church. Wilshire seeks to fill that gap by offering recent seminary or divinity school graduates two years to learn the ropes of local church ministry in a safe and healthy practicum. In the long term, we believe, this will extend the ministry of pastors and prevent early burnout.

History of the Program

Wilshire called its first pastoral resident in 2002 and soon expanded from one to four residents after receiving a major grant from the Lilly Endowment. Residents have come to Wilshire from schools such as Duke Divinity School, Wake Forest University Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, Princeton Seminary, Yale Divinity School, Truett Seminary at Baylor University, Candler School of Theology at Emory University and McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University.

Wilshire now has over three dozen resident alumni serving around the U.S. and overseas. In 2022 the church called former pastoral resident Timothy Peoples as senior pastor. The residency program is now funded by contributions to the George A. Mason Pathways to Ministry Endowment Fund.

What is a pastoral resident?

Pastoral residents are members of our ministerial staff learning to be generalists in ministry as they gain experience in preaching, teaching, pastoral care, administration and congregational organization. They help plan and lead worship, preach for Sunday morning services and lead vespers services a few times each year. They teach in Sunday School classes and gain firsthand experience working with youth and children. They learn how to lead mission trips, how to baptize, how to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, how to handle weddings and funerals, how to manage committees and promote stewardship, how to create a church budget and how to be the personal presence of Christ to congregants in times of need.

Over the course of their two years, residents develop the pastoral identity, theological framework and habits of work and leadership necessary for them to thrive as pastors in vocational ministry.

Georgia McKee and Maggie Morey hired as pastoral residents (March 29, 2024) > 

How to support the residency program

The future of the pastoral residency program at Wilshire depends upon continuing contributions to the George A. Mason Pathways Endowment. This is an ideal place to direct memorial gifts and estate planning directives. To learn more, contact Director of Finance Lori Gooden.


As part of the discernment process for vocational ministry, Wilshire offers college and seminary students opportunities for hands-on work in the church through summer and academic-year internships, with emphases on preschoolers, children, youth, music or missions.