Frequently Asked Questions

What is Companions in Ministry?

Companions in Ministry (CiM) is an ecumenical program bringing together Christian pastors and ordained deacons from diverse denominations, cultures, ages and socio-economic backgrounds in southeastern Wisconsin. The program provides opportunities for participants to build peer relationships and accompany one another in ministry. Guided by trained group leaders, participants engage in retreat days, plenaries, small group discussions (online as needed), spiritual reflection and Sabbath time. Pastors learn about Ignatian Spirituality and participate in self-assessment opportunities. CiM aims to improve the participants’ spiritual well-being and foster a supportive, ecumenical network.

What is the context for the program?

Companions in Ministry is a part of the Lilly Endowment. Inc., national Thriving in Ministry initiative, which develops programs to help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors. The primary aim of Thriving in Ministry is to help clergy thrive in congregational leadership in all stages of their ministry, and, in doing so, enhance the vitality of the congregations they serve. Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School serves as the coordination program for the 129 grantees. Information and resources can be found at Duke Divinity Thriving in Ministry

What does The Lilly Endowment, Inc. hope to achieve?        

Thriving in Ministry helps pastors develop meaningful relationships with wise colleagues who can help guide them through leadership challenges, especially during transitions in their ministerial careers. The initiative builds upon studies that have examined the importance of mentors who help clergy face and overcome professional challenges. Companions in Ministry is one of 129 Thriving in Ministry grants awarded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

How many cohorts are there?           

Three cohorts are active at this time. Two cohorts have been completed and those pastors will continue to meet informally and be invited to CiM events. 

Who benefits from Companions in Ministry?

Christian pastors and ordained deacons in southeastern Wisconsin benefit from participation in the program. Divided into small groups, the pastors gather for prayer, discussion and fellowship. Each group, consisting of 6-10 participants and a trained leader, meets for 18-24 months. Topics for discussion are based on the themes of "Thriving in Ministry," and also originate from the group. 

What are examples of group topics?

Discussion topics vary according to the needs of the group. Overall themes of CiM include clergy well-being, resiliency, thriving, happiness and self-integrity. In addition to the "Flourishing in Ministry" book by Dr. Matt Bloom, other examples of discussion topics could be:

  • Racial and social justice
  • Leading during a pandemic
  • Being a "seasoned" pastor
  • Being a female pastor
  • Serving small congregations
  • Being a bi-vocational pastor
  • Serving multi-cultural congregations
  • Serving congregations in central Milwaukee
  • Serving in specialized ministries
  • Serving multiple congregations

The main component is the small group comprised of Christian pastors and ordained deacons. Other parts of the program include:

  • Opening and closing retreat days 
  •  Plenaries twice a year
  • Sabbath time
  • Opportunities for spiritual direction
  • Learning elements of Ignatian Spirituality 
  • An interview and survey completed before and after the program

Where does Companions in Ministry take place?

Some large group activities take place at Marquette University. Small groups meet at their churches or elsewhere. Retreats are held at retreat centers near Milwaukee. 

Is there a cost to participate?

Thanks to the generosity of The Lilly Endowment, Inc., all program expenses (materials, retreats, refreshments, university parking, etc.) are fully funded. Mileage is not reimbursed. Every effort should be made by participants to participate in all group meetings, plenary sessions, and retreats. Participants will receive a stipend of $1,000 upon full completion of the program. Leaders receive a $2,000 stipend.

What about education and experience?

Companions in Ministry is open to:

  • Pastors and ordained deacons who serve in a local church or equivalent congregation in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Pastors and ordained deacons who hold an M.Div. degree (or similar) from an accredited seminary or pastoral ministry program.
  • Pastors and ordained deacons who have approximately 5 or more years of experience in ministry since Ordination.

How is Marquette University involved?

Companions in Ministry is an outreach of Marquette University’s commitment to community engagement for social responsibility, building a more inclusive culture, and the formation of minds and hearts.  Participants learn elements of Ignatian Spirituality and Shared Inquiry - a discussion methodology from the Great Books Foundation. The program is named “Companions” in keeping with a centuries-long Jesuit/Ignatian tradition, and the model of accompaniment and seeking God in all things. When Ignatius first gathered together people to engage in mission and ministry in the 15th century, he spoke of them as “companions in the Lord." Ignatius sensed that companionship, solidarity, accompaniment, and community are essential elements that encourage “thriving in ministry” for those willing to throw themselves into the enterprise of the Gospel. 

How can pastors apply to be part of Companions in Ministry?

Apply here.

Or you may contact Companions in Ministry Director, Dr. Peg Flahive, or 414-288-5020.