Seeds of Hope Cooperative
The Seeds of Hope Cooperative is an innovative approach to adapt to the changing landscape of congregational life and leadership. This program creates a cooperative of congregations which serves the Church by calling on pastorally vacant congregations to be places of teaching and learning for lay persons who have gifts for ministry, and calling on congregations with full-time pastors to provide mentoring, oversight, and encouragement. The goal is to provide stable, high-quality leadership in these locations into the future. Identified lay persons will engage in coursework, mentoring, and ministry experience with supervision by Seeds of Hope Cooperative pastors for a period of three years. Congregations of the Seeds of Hope Cooperative provide on-site experience by engaging with these developing leaders, providing worship and ministry opportunities. This approach builds the capacity of pastorally vacant congregations to engage in mission with new purpose, calls forth and develops lay leadership to serve the Church in a changing and challenging time, and builds community within the Seeds of Hope Cooperative for their mutual uplifting and ministry into the future. While Seeds of Hope Cooperative may become a step on a lay person’s journey to ordained ministry, Seeds of Hope Cooperative is envisioned as a means by which to provide congregations with Synodically Authorized Ministry.
Pastors in the Seeds of Hope Cooperative will identify lay persons who exhibit gifts for ministry and provide mentoring and supervision for a minimum of three years. While a pastor’s first responsibility is to the calling congregation, as a Seeds of Hope congregation, the congregation will support and encourage their pastor’s calling to mentor others into Christian leadership.
Identified lay persons will engage in a three-year learning time consisting of coursework offered through the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, and supervision and mentoring by area pastors with the goal of serving congregations in a variety of ways in the future. This may include worship, preaching, visiting and serving Communion to the homebound, facilitating Bible studies, leading music and choirs, working with youth, assisting with Confirmation instruction, etc.
Congregations in the Seeds of Hope Cooperative willingly agree to open themselves to the moving of God’s Spirit in this new venture of planting and growing ministers for the sake of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in our communities. Congregations welcome and support students as they engage in learning, support pastors in their work of mentoring, and support the Cooperative through their actions, commitment and prayer.