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Community members listening to a lecture at the Rethinking Confirmation event

Missional Leadership Cohort

for Episcopal Clergy 2017-2018

Leaders across churches today face massive challenges on two fronts: understanding a pluralist culture that no longer supports Christian identity and practice; and leading faith communities through processes of learning, adaptation and innovation in mission. Meaningful engagement with complex challenges like these functions best in communities of peers who mutually encourage, support, challenge and deepen one another, while being held accountable to a disciplined structure of action/reflection under the guidance of experienced mentors and coaches.

The Missional Leadership Cohort is a structured learning community that offers teaching, mentorship and accountability for church leaders in partnership with committed peers and faculty and staff. It offers the promise of intensive, transformational leadership development for a missionary church with flexibility and accommodation for the demands facing full-time, working clergy.


  • To understand more deeply contemporary cultures and the challenges and opportunities they pose to the formation of Christian identity and practice.
  • To gain biblical and theological insight into the triune God’s mission and the church’s missionary identity.
  • To engage key social science literatures in organization and leadership in relation to church life and leadership.
  • To reflect critically on specific missionary challenges of the participants’ contexts.
  • To engage in action/reflection experiments intended to address those challenges.
  • To articulate a renewed understanding of one’s pastoral identity and practice for 21st century ministry.

Comments from the 2014-2016 cohort

The 2014-16 Missional Leadership Cohort on retreat.

The 2014-16 Missional Leadership Cohort for Episcopal Clergy gathers with guest faculty member Stephanie Spellers on retreat.

“This has given me a language for an alternative way to lead. I felt overwhelmed before, but now I feel excited.” -- 2014-16 Program Participant

“This was an exceptional group, particularly in its ability to reflect honestly and openly about both the joys and challenges we face as priests in the church.” -- 2014-16 Program Participant

“I'm so grateful to have been a part of this. I have a much, much clearer sense of direction, purpose, and hope thanks to this work than I would have had without it.” -- 2014-16 Program Participant


The cohort participants (capped at 12) commit to an 18-month learning journey. There are three in-person gatherings of four days each, interspersed with reading and online engagement. Participants compile a portfolio of artifacts over the course of the program that showcase their learning and growth. This may include reflection papers, sermons, congregational curricula, a journal, surveys, interview or focus group transcripts and analysis, worship bulletins, websites, videos and other media.


The 2017-18 Missional Cohort Program for Episcopal Clergy seeks ordained leaders who have established basic pastoral competence yet hold promise for outstanding leadership in the church, with a significant time horizon in ministry ahead of them. Cohort candidates will therefore:

  • Possess at least three years of ministry experience following seminary;
  • Be engaged in ministry full-time;
  • Be willing to take risks—personally and in their contexts—to learn and innovate in mission;
  • Commit to participating in three four-day retreats and an estimated average of two to four hours per week of experimentation, study and peer engagement outside of the retreats for the life of the 18-month program.

Candidates from minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply. Because there are many more qualified candidates than can be accommodated in the program, the cohort will be chosen in a manner that seeks to promote diversity.


Thanks to a generous grant from the Hamilton and Mildred Kellogg Trust, the only cost for participants will be their own travel to the meetings. Tuition, lodging, food and supplies will be covered by the grant. Meetings will be held in Faribault, Minnesota.


  • First Gathering (May 8-11, 2017)
  • Second Gathering (November 6-9, 2017)
  • Final Gathering (May 14-17, 2018)

Program Leaders

Program Director Dwight ZscheileProgram Director: Dwight Zscheile, Ph.D., is an Episcopal priest and professor of congregational mission and leadership at Luther Seminary. His books include “People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity” (Morehouse 2012); “The Agile Church: Spirit-Led Innovation in an Uncertain Age” (Church Publishing, 2014); and “The Missional Church in Perspective” (with Craig Van Gelder, Baker Academic, 2011).

Associate Director Daniel AndersonAssociate Director: Daniel Anderson, Ph.D., has served ELCA congregations in Oregon and Minnesota as a pastor and musician and currently serves as assistant pastor at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul. He is an adjunct professor in the D.Min. programs in congregational mission and leadership and biblical preaching at Luther Seminary. He is the executive director of the Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools, a trained coach and spiritual director.

Additional guest faculty and speakers will participate in the program.

Applying to the Missional Leadership Cohort

Please submit the completed application materials by December 1, 2016:

  • Application form
  • Discernment questions (500 words)
  • Current resume or CV
  • Names of three professional references

Missional Leadership Cohort 2017-2018 Application

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