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Congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) look to their pastor for spiritual, organizational, and missional leadership, but many congregations in villages and rural areas are having difficulty recruiting, affording, and retaining ordained clergy to fill pastoral leadership roles. The Presbytery of Northwest Coast located in parts of Washington and Alaska seeks to fill the need for pastoral leadership in these congregations by training and supporting lay pastors.

The purpose of this doctoral project is to develop a systematic mentoring network for the training of new lay pastors using clergy as mentors. This project will establish the vision and core values of the ministry, create awareness of the value of mentoring for this purpose, design a sustainable and reproducible framework for ministry, and implement a coaching approach to training clergy as mentors. The mentoring program will be developed, implemented, and evaluated in concert with presbytery leadership and staff.

This project defines mentoring as an empowering relationship between two people where one person gives God-given resources to another at a time crucial for personal and professional development. Clergy will invest their time, talent, and wisdom into the mentees as they work to fulfill their individual learning plans to meet the requirements to be commissioned as lay pastors. Clergy will receive training and coaching to develop as mentors.

The project created a sustainable mentoring ministry that continues to train lay pastors through mentoring. By the conclusion of the project implementation period, two individuals had been commissioned as lay pastors and are serving congregations within the presbytery. The continued implementation and refinement of this ministry will serve as a model for the denomination as it seeks to find qualified leaders for each congregation.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Walling, Terry

Document Type





Congregations in the Presbyterian Church, Christian leadership, Discipling (Christianity), Mentoring, Coaching, Lay ministry, pastor formation, Presbyterian Church (USA)


Missions and World Christianity | Practical Theology | Religious Education


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