Frequently Asked Questions

What is Companions in Ministry?

Companions in Ministry (CiM) is an ecumenical program bringing together Christian pastors, associate 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 pastor-facilitators, participants engage in retreat days, small groups, Connected Clergy conversations, spiritual reflection, clergy coaching, and Sabbath time. Participants learn about Ignatian Spirituality and participate in discussions with pastors, and 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 Lilly Endowment Inc., national Thriving in Ministry initiative, which develops programs to help pastors build relationships with clergy who can serve as companions and 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 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 ministry. The initiative builds upon studies that have examined the importance of peers and mentors who help clergy overcome professional challenges. Companions in Ministry is one of 129 Thriving in Ministry grants awarded by Lilly Endowment Inc.

Who benefits from Companions in Ministry?

Christian clergy members in southeastern Wisconsin benefit from participation in the program as they gather for prayer, discussion and fellowship in small and large groupsDiscussion topics have included well-being, vocation, resiliency, serving in specialized ministries, spirituality, ministering during a pandemic, racial justice, restorative justice, self-care, and more. 

Where does Companions in Ministry take place?

Large group activities take place mainly at Marquette University. Participants also meet at their churches or on Zoom. Retreats are held at retreat centers within an hour of Milwaukee. 

Is there a cost to participate?

Thanks to the generosity of Lilly Endowment Inc., all program expenses (materials, retreats, group refreshments, university parking, etc.) are fully funded. Mileage is not reimbursed. 

What about education and experience?

Companions in Ministry is open to:

  • Pastors, associate pastors, and ordained deacons who serve in a local church or equivalent congregation in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Pastors, associate pastors, and ordained deacons who hold an M.Div. degree (or similar) from an accredited seminary or pastoral ministry program.
  • Pastors, associate pastors, and ordained deacons who have approximately 1-2 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. 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.

Contact Dr. Stephen Jenks with questions before applying, 414-288-5049.