Posted by William Nunnelley on 2008-02-01

Samford University has received a $1 million continuation grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., for its Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence (RCPE). This multi-faceted project offers various programs that foster pastoral excellence among ministers with differing social, racial, religious and educational backgrounds.

Beginning with an initial grant of $2 million from the Endowment several years ago, the RCPE has influenced the lives and ministries of more than 300 clergy, according to Michael K. Wilson, RCPE program director.

Now, with its programs in place and with growing additional support from Samford and other sources, the RCPE goal is to train and support an additional 600 pastors over the next five years.

RCPE partners include the Samaritan Counseling Center of Birmingham, First Priority of Alabama and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

"With our program alumni and our organizational partners, we will continue to create new structures for pastoral development and disseminate both theoretical insight and practical wisdom," said Penny Marler, RCPE grant and research coordinator.

The RCPE offers several basic programs.

A Sabbath Opportunities and Resources (SOAR) program provides pastors with restorative emotional, spiritual, physical and intellectual experiences in an academic environment. In addition to sabbaticals and study leaves, SOAR features quarterly Days Apart for Birmingham area women pastors and area judicatory leaders, lectures, seminars and targeted conferences.

Pastoral Sustenance Networks (PSNs) work with bivocational ministers, especially in rural areas, at state and regional levels.

Project Timothy facilitates mentor relationships between college-aged ministerial candidates and experienced pastors. "This enriches the capacity of congregations as mentoring environments," said Wilson.

Twelve for Twelve (TFT) is a 12-month, interdenominational peer learning program for local clergy in which pairs of experienced pastors work together to learn from each other.

Research activities are also part of the program, systematically gathering, analyzing and publishing data on pastoral leadership.

For more information on the RCPE, visit the Center website.

About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.