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First Season Project Builds Networks of Support for New Pastors

Under the direction of Prof. Bill Kincaid, CTS launched the First Season Project (FSP) in May 2020. Reflecting on the project and its participants over the last year, Kincaid said, “I am so impressed by the commitments and resilience of these new pastors and really honored to be accompanying and supporting them through their transition into ministry.”

The FSP aims to strengthen the life and leadership of local congregations by accompanying and supporting new pastors during their transition into ministry after seminary. Currently, the project is offering accompaniment, support, and community to twenty new pastors representing nine different seminaries and eight church traditions, serving communities throughout the country in a variety of ministerial settings. Nine of the current participants are CTS graduates. Kincaid invited two CTS grads with significant pastoral experience, Rev. Mindy Mayes (Bethel AME, Noblesville) and Jen Riddle (First UMC, Columbus), to join as mentors.

The FSP offers semi-annual retreats with monthly meetings of small groups, which have thus far taken place via Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past year, participants have built bonds of community with one another and strengthened their networks of support. On several occasions, guest presenters engaged the participants about different aspects of ministry, such as the economic challenges facing pastoral leaders, flourishing in ministry, and the Enneagram.

Although a winter retreat was not originally part of the plan, Kincaid decided to host a gathering in light of the many strains brought about by the pandemic, the election, and the events leading up to the 2021 presidential inauguration. In what proved to be one of their most impactful experiences thus far, he invited Prof. Christina Davis to give a presentation on trauma and secondary trauma. These sorts of shared experiences have built considerable comradery among the participants, who are eagerly preparing for their first in-person gathering scheduled for September.

Rev. Megan Turner, who serves Northway Christian Church in Dallas, TX, explained how the FSP has been especially helpful as she has shifted from chaplaincy to pastoral ministry. Turner said that, “Pastoral Care is so much different than congregational care, specifically in the ways it effects the pastor. First Season Project has helped me to maintain a rhythm of self-care and retreat and provided colleagues for the journey. This is critical for any pastor, in any ministry, and it was not something I learned in Chaplaincy, so I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Looking ahead, Kincaid said, “What we are doing through First Season Project is a commitment and gift to the church, and I’m very excited that CTS is offering this.”

Learn more about the First Season Project here.

Learn more about CTS’ Master of Divinity (MDiv) program here.



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