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Programs: Lewis Fellows

The Lewis Fellows program is a post-graduate, post-ordination leadership development opportunity for young clergy offered by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary, supported in part by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The Lewis Fellows program brings together outstanding young clergy persons (generally those under the age of 35) for intensive leadership development activities and sustained peer interaction.

The program began in 2005 as part of Lilly’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Initiative. In 2012, the Lilly Endowment awarded the Lewis Center another grant through its Transition into Ministry Initiative to continue the program through 2016. To date, over 200 clergy from over a dozen different denominations have been Lewis Fellows.

Lewis Fellows Cohort 2012-2013
2014/2015 Cohort of Lewis Fellows visiting the Church of the Resurrection

Program Overview

Each year, the Lewis Center selects an ecumenical group of outstanding young clergy to be part of a learning community that meets together three times over the course of a year for four-day meetings (Monday – Thursday), generally held in a hotel or conference center. Each cohort engages in a learning agenda facilitated by the staff of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. Group activities include presentations on leadership themes; group discussion; site visits; the use of a leadership assessment instrument, and worship. Fellows prepare in advance through assigned reading and occasionally through the completion of additional pre-work.

Two units of Continuing Education Credit (2 CEUs) are issued for each of the three gatherings.

Eligibility Requirements

The Lewis Fellows program seeks applicants who:

  • Are motivated by a desire to be fruitful in ministry by developing their personal leadership
  • Are under the age of 35
  • Are at least two years but no more than ten years beyond seminary
  • Serve in a congregational setting
  • Reside in the continental United States (due to travel budget limitations)

Because there are many more qualified young clergy than can be accommodated in any one year, participants are selected in a manner that promotes group diversity in terms of gender, racial/ethnic background, denominational affiliation, geography, educational experience, and theological perspective.

Program Components

The Lewis Fellows learning agenda is built around the following components:

  • Leadership – Fellows explore elements of effective leadership such as the discernment and articulation of an appropriate shared vision, the building of the team required for the vision to become a reality, the embodiment of the vision with the culture of the congregation, and the adherence to personal and organizational integrity consistent with the vision.
  • Skills – Fellows work to develop skills in ministry management areas such as church finances, conflict, and assessing the fruits of ministry, particularly its ability to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people.
  • Contextualized Learning – Fellows visit several area congregations in each city to learn how they contextualize their visions within their varied contexts. These site visits also provide the opportunity to be in conversation with outstanding ministry practitioners. 
  • Pastoral Identity – Fellows are inspired toward a more holistic and confident self-understanding of their role as pastor and congregational leader.

Applying to be a Lewis Fellow

Early next year, the Lewis Center will begin receiving applications from those interested in being considered for the 2016-2017 cohort of Fellows.  Application information will be available on this page in January of 2016. 

For More Information

Questions about the Lewis Fellows program can be directed to Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr., Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, or Dr. Ann A. Michel, Associate Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.