The board of directors of the Orthodox Church in America’s Thriving in Ministry (TIM) program gathered at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [SVOTS] recently to review the work of the program. The work of the day-long meeting included reviewing current and emerging groups, planning for the 2020 workshop for group facilitators in Jacksonville, Florida, and creating a set of guidelines for hybrid groups that need to meet both in-person and online. Board members include Dr. Albert Rossi, Presbytera Kerry Pappas, Archpriests Nicholas Solak and Stephen Vernak, Igumen Nikodhim Preston, and Priest Theophan Whitfield.
Sponsored by the OCA’s Department of Pastoral Life, and funded by the Lilly Endowment through a generous five-year grant of $470,000, the TIM program seeks to establish pan-Orthodox learning groups for priests and their wives throughout the United States and Canada. Meeting quarterly for the day and guided by trained facilitators, our TIM groups allow participants to gather, share wisdom, and build relationships based on trust, joy, and accountability. Pastoral ministry is hard, but it is also full of priceless insights into the ceaseless work of Christ in our midst. Too often isolation and stress prevent priests from celebrating and protecting their sacred call to serving the Lord, and too often these same challenges keep our clergy wives from doing the same. The TIM program offers the chance to learn and to rest, to build skills and explore challenges, and to be gathered by Christ and to be sent out by Him once again for harvest (Mark 3:14).
“The program is surpassing its goals for 2019,” said Father Theophan Whitfield, program administrator. “Already, there are eight active clergy groups with members in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Canada, and an established group of clergy wives in eastern Pennsylvania. A new group is being established in Boston, and two new peer groups for wives are forming in Chicago and Connecticut. Work to establish groups has also begun in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the Carolinas.”