The Rev. Heather Ramsey Mabrouk has been called to serve as Program Coordinator for the Together We Thrive
In October 2018
, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ was awarded a $1 million grant for clergy development from Lilly Endowment Inc. The five year grant is being used in collaboration with the Connecticut and Rhode Island Conferences, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the New England Synod - ELCA Lutheran.
The Together We Thrive
proposal was submitted under the Massachusetts Conference name, but was developed cooperatively by a team of people from each of the organizations and is being used by them together.
The Rev. Ramsey Mabrouk has served churches in Marblehead, Beverly, and a suburb of Buffalo over the past 14 years. In New York and Massachusetts, she has led workshops on Youth Ministry and Christian Education, planned and facilitated Conference-wide Confirmation Retreats, taught Boundary Awareness Training, created community-wide ecumenical worship opportunities, and given Interfaith presentations with her husband Nawfal, who is Sunni Muslim.
A native of Manchester, Massachusetts, The Rev. Ramsey Mabrouk grew up in the United Church of Christ. She studied Elementary Education at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, earning a BA in Elementary Education and began a Master’s in Education while teaching 5th grade in public school in Piedmont, South Carolina. After feeling a call to ministry, she returned to Massachusetts to attend seminary at Andover Newton Theological School. She was ordained in 2011.
The Rev. Ramsey begins her ministry on July 29. 2019.
Thriving in Ministry
is a Lilly Endowment initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they 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 Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the initiative.
The Program Coordinator Search Committee received 26 letters of interest for the position. Subsequently, seven people were invited to participate in online video conference interviews, with four candidates being invited to the final round of in-person interviews.
“We had many gifted and qualified individuals apply for this position, and as we began the interview process we wondered how we would ever be able to choose among them. But as the process continued, Heather's insightful answers to our questions, her understanding and ability to articulate the benefits provided by the Together We Thrive
programs, and her gracious and enthusiastic presence led to our unanimous decision,“ said Search Committee Member The Rev. Renee LiaBraaten, Assistant to the Bishop, New England Synod - ELCA Lutheran.
Another search committee member, The Rev. Jennifer Gregg, Missioner for Servant Leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts said: “We are so excited to welcome Heather to the Together We Thrive
Team. Her warmth, thoughtfulness and clear dedication and passion to create spaces where clergy can be nurtured will be a gift to our entire region. I look forward to introducing her to the diocese and working alongside her on the TWT team.”
And the Rev. Ellie Richardson, Associate Conference Minister at the Massachusetts Conference, said: “We were very pleased with the response to the Program Coordinator position. A number of excellent candidates applied and as the search unfolded Heather consistently impressed us with her enthusiasm, energy and passion for the program initiatives. I can’t wait for people to meet her!”
Together We Thrive
is designed to give clergy the opportunities and support systems necessary for success in their ministries. The following programs will receive funding through this grant:
Tending the Fire,
a program that draws on the wisdom of family systems theory and adaptive leadership. The Massachusetts Conference has offered Tending the Fire annually since 2011,and has partnered with the Connecticut and Rhode Island conferences in sponsoring the program since 2015. The first series of programs is scheduled to begin April 30, 2019.
Expansion of Clergy Communities of Practice and New Clergy Groups.
Meeting once a month, Clergy Communities of Practice (CCOP) and New Clergy Groups (NCG) foster collegial relationships and promote growth through sharing information, pondering common issues and exploring ideas together. CCOP and NCG meetings will be facilitated by a clergy member who will receive special training and financial support for their role.
The Massachusetts Conference began Clergy Communities of Practice and New Clergy Groups in 2004 with the Conference's first grant from Lilly Endowment. The Connecticut Conference was part of the second Lilly Endowment grant received in 2007, under which the Massachusetts Conference administered the programs in Connecticut, Vermont and Maine. The Connecticut Conference restarted Clergy Excellence Groups, another name for Communities of Practice, two years ago.
Clergy Affinity Groups
While CCOPs offer participants a view into the diverse settings of ministry. Clergy Affinity Groups will provide the opportunity for meaningful relationships between similarly-positioned clergy. Groups will be formed and programming will be crafted based upon each group’s own unique ministerial stages and settings. Establishing affinity groups will be conducive to creating a safe space in which clergy can more easily establish a feeling of trust get used to sharing on an honest and deep level.
Clergy Coach Training
Basic Coach Training equips pastors with the fundamental coaching skills that can enhance their effectiveness as a leader and greatly increase the impact within their faith community as well as the larger local community. In addition to the valuable skills and knowledge they will gain in the training process, participants will graduate with a coaching credential and will be in a position to support their clergy peers beyond the group experience.
Once equipped with certified coaches, program coordinators will match recent Coaching4Clergy graduates with interested Tending the Fire graduates in a coach-mentee relationship. This mutually beneficial partnership will foster pastoral excellence throughout the stages of ministry leadership and is the key to healthy ministry. The first cohort of the Coach Training program began March 31, 2019.
Annual Focus Colloquies will offer all clergy the opportunity to join together with partners from different backgrounds to learn and reflect on transitional times in their ministry. At this point, participants will be able to submit questions and topics that they would like to see addressed at the event. During the colloquy, there will be opportunities for discussion, reflection and learning.
The following people serve on the Together We Thrive
steering team: Bishop James Hazelwood, and Renee LiaBraaten, Assistant to the Bishop, New England Synod - ELCA Lutheran; Bishop Doug Fisher, Richard Simpson, Canon to the Ordinary and Jennifer Gregg, Missioner for Servant Leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts; Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership and Susan Townsley, Associate Conference Minster for Leadership, Innovation and Change, Connecticut Conference, UCC; Dale Azevedo, Senior Pastor, Barrington Congregational, UCC, Rhode Island Conference, UCC; Lee Gagen, Fundraising and Development Specialist, Ellie Richardson, Associate Conference Minister for Lay & Clergy Leadership Development and Don Remick, Transitional Interim Conference Minister, Massachusetts Conference. Marilyn Kendrix, Transitional Conference Minister Rhode Island, and Kent Siladi Conference Minister in Connecticut are advisors to the steering team.