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 young believers as they test their gifts and consider 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
The idea of a clergy training program at Wilshire was first introduced in 2002. At the same time, the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment was nurturing similar ideas about the need for training young ministers. Soon after Wilshire’s program began, we became one of the first congregations to receive a major grant for this kind of work from the Lilly Endowment.
With this help, the program expanded from one pastoral resident to four. The program is now funded jointly by grants and individual contributions to Wilshire’s Pathways to Ministry Endowment. Pastoral 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. Pastoral residents benefit from a nurturing community at Wilshire, with each resident assigned a team of lay persons offering feedback, support and hospitality.
Wilshire now has over three dozen resident alumni (including our own senior pastor, Timothy Peoples) serving around the US and even overseas.
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 weekly, preach about once a month 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, how to promote stewardship and how to be the personal presence of Christ to congregants in times of need.
Wilshire is currently undertaking an intentional reevaluation of the pastoral residency program and will not call new residents during 2023. We anticipate adding new residents in 2024. Interested applicants may contact George Mason, Wilshire’s senior pastor emeritus and director of Pathways to Ministry.
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.