Bethany Initiative

What Participants Say about the Bethany Initiative

“I didn’t know how much I thirsted for something like this until I got here. I have been filled in so many ways, and now I have a community to lift me up, challenge me, and pray for me as we walk through this journey of ministry together.” –Shannon

“The Bethany Initiative offered spiritual partnership, mentoring and support as I re-enter full-time campus ministry. I know no better way to begin or sustain a vibrant spiritual life and ministry . . . thank you Bethany mentors and peers and supporters. I go confidently, knowing I am greatly supported and formed for campus ministry.” –Anonymous

“It has been wonderful to be open with peers who get me and my ministry. Their listening and loving has renewed my energy and my soul.” –Hunter

“I’ve been supported as a minister in many different ways over the years. I’ve never experienced the level of spiritual support that Bethany has given me–not from any person, or experience, or organization.” –Evan

“I have received much-needed support to help me continue my ministry with students. Additionally, I am receiving a mentor who will pray with and for me. This is the best part of being here–someone who knows my ministry setting.” –Anonymous

NCMA’s Bethany Initiative was born in 2013 out of a perception that religious leaders in higher education struggle with issues of resiliency, empowerment, and spiritual sustainability. In partnership with the Bethany Fellows, an established and successful spiritual partnership and mentoring program for congregational pastors developed within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we began seeking a way to address it.

Gathered in the fall of 2013, Bethany co-founder Kim Ryan, NCMA Coordinating Committee member Evan Young, and Bethany Fellows alumna and Westminster College chaplain Jamie Haskins began the process of envisioning a mentoring program for professionals in higher education ministry that adapted the successful Bethany model to the specific context and unique set of needs and challenges of ministry on campus. With some seed money from NCMA’s 21st Century Fund, they gathered a team in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2014 to flesh out the vision and map out a plan to take it from dream to reality—at which point mentors David Glenn-Burns and Allison Lanza joined the team. Click here to learn more about the Bethany Mentors.

NCMA’s mission is to educate, equip, and advocate for the practice of ministry in higher education. For those who serve in higher education ministry, NCMA commits to provide a network for mutual support and resources, and to encourage collegial support and dialogue. Building on and living into NCMA’s long-range goal of creating and offering exemplary, valued, and respected professional development opportunities, the Bethany Initiative is uniquely focused on attending to and supporting the spiritual health and well-being of those doing ministry on campus—not a product but a process, not a curriculum but a community.

The Bethany Initiative is a spiritual partnership and mentoring program bringing together newcomers and seasoned professionals in higher education ministry.

Bethany’s mission: We serve campus communities and God by bringing together religious leaders in higher education in an intentional mentoring community of care and support.

How we do it: by creating and sharing opportunities for participants to discern and develop their own calling, ministerial identity, and spiritual formation.

What it looks like: two in-person retreats per year plus ongoing personal mentoring relationships.

The Bethany Initiative is a ministry, and ensuring that it remains accessible to those who need it as the field changes is a top priority. Our commitment from the beginning has been to offer participants their first Bethany retreat as a “come and see,” with all expenses paid (except for a non-refundable $100 deposit to secure a slot). Recognizing that this would require substantial outside funding, the leadership team began exploring potential grants. In May 2015 we were awarded a $25,000 Catalyst-Collaborative Grant from the Pastoral Excellence Network to carry our work through the next phase, culminating in our first Bethany retreat, which took place in January 2016 in San Antonio, Texas, with 14 participants.

The Initiative is now seeking to add six more participants to our Bethany group. The leadership team welcomes inquiries and referrals to the program, and will then interview and accept participants based on their commitment and the selection criteria described above. Interested parties should contact Evan Young at

Our Bethany Initiative brochure is available in the link below.

Bethany Brochure