New Frontiers is a free yearlong program that helps pastors thrive as they chart their vocational course. By cultivating peer networks, connecting pastors with senior mentors, and opening avenues for intellectual exploration, New Frontiers gives pastors practical tools for responding to God's call to creative ministry. Closely related to Westmont's liberal-arts mission and hosted by the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts, New Frontiers will especially benefit professionals in their first years of ministry, or anyone seeking rejuvenation and refreshment as they imagine new possibilities for their own engagement in the church and the church's service in the world.
Besides the content, I loved laughing my head off at dinner with new friends and connecting with peers and mentors. I also so appreciated the time to reflect from afar on my ministry, giving me new eyes to see when I get back home. - Kelsey Guckenberger, Pastor, Christ Community Church, Des Moines
A vocation to ministry can be uniquely rewarding and uniquely challenging. As pastors seek to flourish in their calling, especially in their first years in ministry, they face a number of distinctive hurdles: developing life-giving connections with other ministry professionals, finding guides who can help them navigate the path, and preserving and developing the Christian life of the mind. With these challenges in view, New Frontiers supports pastors through:
On the surface, professional ministry is a highly social line of work. But it can be surprisingly lonely and isolating. New Frontiers creates space for genuine friendship and dialogue among a close cohort of peers who know the joys and struggles of life in the church.
A career in ministry inevitably includes many challenges and changes; these shape a pastor’s sense of what the church is about, how it should do its work, and how individuals can be effective in its institutional life. New Frontiers connects pastors to seasoned mentors who are further down the path, who have experienced transitions in the church and its ministry, and who can be wise conversation partners as the church confronts new challenges.
The Christian Gospel has relevance for every dimension of human life. Amidst the pressures of ministry, though, it takes real energy and imagination to continue to explore the broad implications of the good news we have in Christ. New Frontiers encourages pastors in intellectual renewal through faith-and-learning workshops, complimentary access to conferences and talks offered at Westmont, and more.
It's very helpful to be around others in ministry—I've found myself energized and re-energized each time. There is movement of the Holy Spirit in my life, and I think part of that is what happens in this group. - Brett Stuvland, Lead Pastor, Westside Journey United Methodist Church, Beaverton
Meet Our Mentors
Amy Poling Sutherlun
Amy is the co-senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Marcos, Texas, a role she shares with her husband, Joshua. In addition to her longtime work in congregational and family ministry, Amy’s diverse experience includes a stint as an inner-city schoolteacher, mission service in Malawi, and authorship of a PC(USA) study curriculum. Before being called to San Marcos in 2013, she served as an associate pastor in Huntington, West Virginia.
Doug has been in pastoral ministry at Free Methodist Church, Santa Barbara, since 1984, and currently serves as FMCSB’s Associate Pastor for Youth, Children, and Families. He's brought his long experience in ministry to a number of other efforts, including church consulting for Ministry Architects, advising on youth and children’s ministry for the Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth, and a local support group for young pastors and leaders.
Who Should Apply?
New Frontiers offers experiences and tools that will be especially useful to ministry professionals in their first call or first few years of service. However, professionals at every stage in their ministry careers, especially those re-envisioning the basic shape of their ministry or seeking intellectual renewal, are welcome to apply. We welcome participants from all Christian denominational backgrounds, all ordination statuses, and all pastoral ranks and specialties. New Frontiers seeks to assemble denominationally diverse cohorts; for that reason, participants should expect to learn and benefit from interaction with branches of the Christian family that are quite different from their own.
New Frontiers participants gather in California for three multi-day retreats, meet monthly (online or in person) for individual and group mentoring conversations, and have complimentary access to optional academic and pastoral conferences at Westmont College.
- Retreat dates for the 2022-2023 cohort are:
- August 8-11, 2022 (in Santa Barbara, CA)
- Late October-early November, 2022 (dates and location to be announced)
- May 15-18, 2023 (in Santa Barbara, CA)
- 2022-2023 optional conferences (funding offered as available)
New Frontiers offers free registration and travel support for attendance at relevant Westmont events during the year. Covid has disrupted our regular conference schedules, but we will keep New Frontiers participants apprised of opportunities as they arise.
- Program Cost
Thanks to the generosity of Lilly Endowment Inc., Westmont College is able to provide this program to ministry professionals at no cost. Travel, lodging, and all program activities are included for free with registration.
How to Apply
Please download the program application here. Completed applications can be returned via email to Phoebe Wicks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort are due May 31, 2022.
Are you a mid-career pastor facing major transitions in your ministry? Consider Next Frontiers, which supports pastors experiencing or anticipating changes in their professional situations.