This is a challenging time to be in ministry. Statistics show that some new pastors will drop out of the ministry in their first five years. Many of our pastors feel isolated and alone.

In an effort to change those statistics, the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC, funded by the Lilly Endowment, began the Pastoral Excellence Program in 2003. This program is designed to bring together people of shared interests in peer learning groups called Communities of PracticeToday across the UCC more and more conferences are introducing this program in their settings, bringing together clergy, interims, lay ministers, Christian Educators, and others for support and learning. To date, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin are involved with this program.

The Pennsylvania Southeast Conference embarked on this program in January 2014. We have trained facilitators, and clergy in our Conference have become part of this program.

Each Community of Practice developed a group covenant describing their focus. They are facilitated by a respected peer and honor the “wisdom in the room.”

In this challenging time in ministry, these groups help to strengthen our clergy and lay members, and in doing so, will strengthen our congregations and their ministry.

There is a fee of $250 per year for participants that covers the cost of the facilitator and any other expenses. We ask our congregations to pay this fee for their clergy or for any lay member who may be working in their congregations. We have limited scholarship funds if needed. We believe that this will be money well spent!

Download a copy of the PSEC Pastoral Excellence Program brochure.

If you are interested in being part of a Community of Practice and are looking for life-sustaining friendships, a new perspective, a renewed calling, and a time for reflection, then this program might be for you. Please contact Rev. Kevin McLemore, Associate Conference Minister for Search and Call, for additional information or to sign up to be part of a group: or 484-949-8774 ext. 302.