Bethel University and Memphis Theological Seminary aid those called to serve CP church

Bethel University and Memphis Theological Seminary aid those called to serve CP church

Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge Program supports individuals at every stage of their pastoral calling

As Cumberland Presbyterian churches around the world face a crisis in pastoral staffing, an exciting new program is building a bridge between those called to serve and lead -- and the CP churches in need of their servant-leadership.

The Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge Program was born from the faith and prayers of a local Cumberland Presbyterian Church member who asked to remain anonymous. It was his generosity that spawned a coordinated effort between Bethel University, Memphis Theological Seminary, and the Pastoral Development Team of the Cumberland Church. 

The Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge Program is designed to aid in the successful placement of pastors into the Cumberland Presbyterian Ministry. Candidates who feel called to pastoral ministry while pursuing an undergraduate degree at Bethel University can now benefit from generous assistance once they have earned their graduate seminary degree at Memphis Theological Seminary and take their place at the helm of a CP church. 

Specifically, program officials state, upon successful completion of a Bethel University undergraduate degree and Memphis Theological Seminary graduate degree, ordained ministers who are placed into a full-time Cumberland Presbyterian Ministry position within 12 months of graduation will be awarded a Ministry Bridge Grant. The grant will provide up to 50 candidates with a $1,000 monthly stipend for 60 months.

Project Manager Amy Thompson of Bethel University said that the Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge program was thoughtfully designed to accomplish several objectives. 

“Not only will our struggling CP churches be better able to support their pastors, but the support they receive will allow pastors to focus greater attention on ministry beyond the church,” she said. “This will give more individuals an opportunity to receive the eternal salvation and rich blessings that God freely offers each person who will follow Jesus Christ.  In addition, the Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge will support our institutions of higher learning, Bethel University and Memphis Theological Seminary.”

The newest form of ministerial support is a Pastoral Retreat located at the Whitestone Country Inn in Kingston, Tennessee.

“Thanks in part to a private donor – and with the coordination of the Pastoral Development Team at the Cumberland Presbyterian Headquarters – pastors will be able to ‘recharge’ at no expense each month for up to a year,” Thompson said. The Pastoral Development Team will also invite 15 pastors a month to the East Tennessee inn to enjoy a three-day family retreat.
             “Whitestone Country Inn has provided rest and restorative services to pastors and missionaries for over 20 years,” Thompson noted. “Through more than 10,000 stays, they have helped families return to Christian service with a renewed spirit.” 

During the retreat, participants will have the chance to attend small, informal gatherings to discuss their role in sharing the opportunity available for students interested in ministry. The Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge Office will devote the last day of the Pastors’ Retreat to identifying individuals in their congregations, contacts, and families who would be interested in learning more about the Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge opportunity. 

“We want invigorated pastors who will return with renewed energy to their congregations with a focus on identifying young freshmen to participate in the Cumberland Presbyterian Ministry,” Thompson said. “In other words, our goal is to support CP ministers along every step of their pastoral journey.” 

The Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge has a home office on Bethel University’s campus as well as an office located at Memphis Theological Seminary’s Campus. In addition to Project Manager Amy Thompson, Bethel’s Associate Chaplain Rev. Garrett Burns serves as a coordinator and point of contact for the spiritual arm of the Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge.

To learn more about the Whosoever Will Ministry Bridge, contact Amy Thompson at (731) 418.0169 or thompsona@bethelu.edu, or Garrett Burns at (731) 535.3126 or burnsg@bethelu.edu.