Western Seminary has received a grant of


from the Lilly Endowment to help establish a Center for Pastoral Flourishing (CPF) serving both the Pacific Northwest and Northern California.

This grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry initiative supporting a variety of religious organizations across the nation. The initiative seeks to create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry. 

The CPF will partner with existing organizations that share Western Seminary’s commitment to pastoral well-being and congregational vitality to accomplish four goals: (1) strengthen and expand peer learning networks, groups and relationships, (2) prioritize the continuing education of the pastor, (3) emphasize the self-directed, personal agency of the pastor to pursue pastoral flourishing, and (4) promote pastoral commitment to the mentoring process. These outcomes will be achieved through expanding participation in leadership networks, sponsoring ministry flourishing forums, creating pastoral peer cohorts, increasing pastoral flourishing resources for personal and group learning and providing personal and congregational coaching.  

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Western Seminary’s Center for Pastoral Flourishing, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

The Center’s initiatives will serve pastors at key stages of their vocational service. This includes new pastors early in their service, emerging leaders stepping into larger leadership roles, mid-career pastors encountering transitions in settings or roles, and seasoned pastors looking to contribute to the emerging next generation. 

“Peer-learning groups are one of the strongest models I’ve seen to nurture trusted, accountable, and transparent relationships among pastors, both at a personal and ministerial level,” said Kevin Palau, president and CEO of the Luis Palau Association. The Center will build on the ongoing relationships among Portland area pastors that the Luis Palau Association has so effectively nurtured over the past ten years, providing new ways for them to support each other and mobilize together for making an impact on the Northwest. The Center will also collaborate with more than a dozen pre-existing formal and informal pastoral networks led by godly leaders who are looking for ways to build a sustainable movement of pastoral leaders both in the Northwest and in Northern California, where the Seminary has two extension campuses. “We see Western Seminary as a key leader in this work,” said Palau. “I believe the Center for Pastoral Flourishing will help nurture and accelerate pastors in ministry throughout their careers and I confidently support this.”

Bill Clem, director of the Center for Pastoral Flourishing
Mike Rohmberger, president and CEO
of Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center

Bill Clem recently joined Western Seminary as the new director of the CPF. Bill has spent over forty years in various ministry contexts leading college ministries, planting churches, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels and leading professional development seminars. Most recently, he served as the associate pastor of Imago Dei Community Church (Portland, OR) for almost six years. “He is a highly respected member of the pastoral community in Portland” said Chuck Conniryvice president of Academic Affairs. “He is the ideal person to advance the mission of the Center.” 

We are also very grateful that Mike Rohmberger, president and CEO of Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center, has agreed to be the program’s part-time Northern California liaison.  Mike has also graciously made the beautiful Mount Hermon facility available for some program retreats and related events. We appreciate your continued prayers for Bill, Mike and the CPF.