The Moses Project

The mission of The Moses Project is to give rural pastors a vision of ministry that will help them thrive in congregational leadership and in turn, enhance the vitality of the congregations they serve. This program is designed to help them build relationships with and learn from experienced clergy who will guide them through challenges at critical, transitional phases in their early ministerial career. Through a distinct and exceptional professional development program, pastors will receive critical support, develop innovative strategies, and engage in ongoing learning and opportunities for renewal. They will build the very network that will provide them and those they serve with vitality.

The Moses Project is funded by the Thriving in Ministry Initiative of the Lilly Endowment, housed at Grand View University, and in collaboration with the Southeastern and Western Iowa Synods of the ELCA.

What to Expect as a Part of The Moses Project

There are four main goals for clergy who are a part of The Moses Project. Pastors will:

  • Rediscover their call after having already been called.
  • Learn to manage the fit and misfit between them and their congregation.
  • Build uplifting connections with other clergy.
  • Receive mentorship relevant to their ministry.

Learning Modules

Each module will take four weeks and is focused on an idea linked to pastors thriving in rural ministry. Although none of these topics will be covered exhaustively in  the Moses Project, we hope that each of them would spark curiosity and spur creativity for you to thrive in ministry. Modules may look different from month to month, but we expect approximately three hours a week necessary to engage the Moses Project outside of the on-site times. Possible activities include engaging resources, discussion with cohort members, one-on-one mentorship and Q&A with exemplars in rural ministry.

Module 1: Rediscovering Your Call

This module is created to help you recapture the vision that got you into ministry. We will re-examine the traditional language of internal and external call to help you see your place in what God is doing.

Module 2: Knowing Your Community

Every community is different. Many people enter into rural ministry having come from a different and sometimes non-rural context. This module is designed to help you understand the setting in which you're called.

Module 3: The Community Pastor

What if you were the pastor for the whole town? Together we will explore how to be a pastor of word and sacrament outside the doors of your building.

Module 4: The Community Church

In this module, we will ask the hard questions about how the congregation can be an oasis of health in the midst of the issues that are surrounding community faces.

Module 5: The Rural Unchurched

Not everyone in rural America is connected to the Church. For this module, we will explore the reasons people have disconnected from the church and what we can do to reengage them.

Module 6: Wellness

For the month of January we will slow down and examine your spiritual, social, interpersonal, emotional, physical, financial, vocational and intellectual well-being.

Module 7: Economics

This module will help you think critically about the economics of your congregation and your community.

Module 8: Innovation and Change

You can innovate. You can lead change. This module is designed to help you imagine how to move the heritage of your congregation forward to face present and future challenges and opportunities.

Module 9: Beyond the Jordan

After having experienced the whole Moses Project, it's time for you to wade into areas that matter to you and chart the course for your next steps in ministry.

The 2019-2020 Cohort has been filled!

However, we are now accepting applications for our 2020-2021 cohort beginning in August of 2020. This program is expected to fill quickly as well, so please do not hesitate to apply!

Apply Now for the 2020-2021 Cohort

What is The Moses Project?

The mission of The Moses Project is to give rural pastors a vision of ministry that will help them thrive in congregational leadership and in turn, enhance the vitality of the congregations they serve. This program is designed to help them build relationships with and learn from experienced clergy who will guide them through challenges at critical, transitional phases in their early ministerial career. Through a distinct and exceptional professional development program, pastors will receive critical support, develop innovative strategies, and engage in ongoing learning and opportunities for renewal. They will build the very network that will provide them and those they serve with vitality.

Who is The Moses Project for?

The Moses Project is for Lutheran pastors serving in rural America, between 4 and 9 years into their career. The Moses Project is specifically focused at these pastors because they are doing ministry in a unique place and at a unique time in their career. We at The Moses Project know that the intersection of this time and place creates particular challenges and we want to equip these pastors with what they need to thrive as people, clergy, and leaders. In turn, we believe their congregations will thrive as a result.

Where is The Moses Project?

The Moses Project is headquartered within the Campus Ministry Department at Grand View University in Des Moines, IA. While parts of the program take place on campus, the vast majority of the program is done in an online format utilizing online classrooms and video conferencing technology.

The network and resources created by The Moses Project is designed to spread throughout the Midwest and impact countless local communities.

How much does The Moses Project cost?

It’s free. Thanks to a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, participation in The Moses Project is free. We cover tuition, travel expenses, on-site housing and meals, books, and can even help with technology needed to be able to telecommute. We at The Moses Project don’t ever want finances to be the barrier to a pastor entering into this enriching experience.

How do I nominate a pastor for The Moses Project?

We are thrilled you have someone in mind! Please fill out the following nomination form or contact us directly at mosesproject@grandview.edu.

If you are a pastor interested in applying for The Moses Project, please fill out the following application or contact us directly at mosesproject @ grandview.edu.

How can I be involved in The Moses Project?

There are lots of ways to help with The Moses Project. To name a few, we are always looking for exemplars and experts to serve as teachers, mentors to guide students through the program, speakers for our Rural Pastor’s Conference, contributors to our blog and podcast, and people to get the word out and campaign on our behalf.

If you’d like to help out in any of these ways or something else entirely, please contact us at mosesproject @ grandview.edu.

How do I financially contribute to The Moses Project?

We would like to expand The Moses Project to reach more clergy and congregations. We believe this will have a tremendous impact on the future church and would love to have you partner with us and what God is doing through The Moses Project.

For financial contributions, please contact us at mosesproject @ grandview.edu or contact our Vice-President for Advancement, Bill Burma at bburma @ grandview.edu. Thank you in advance for your support of The Moses Project!

Staff and Contributors

  • Rev. Dr. Russell Lackey, the James E. Rasmussen & Duane M. Skow Chair in Pastoral Excellence
  • Rev. Dr. Ken Jones, Ph.D.
  • Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes, Ph.D.
  • Jamie Lackey, Administrative Assistant
  • Rev. Lorna Halaas, Bishop of the Western Iowa Synod
  • Rev. Paul Ostrem, Assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern Iowa Synod
  • Rev. Erica Uthe, Director of Evangelical Mission of the Southeastern Iowa Synod
  • Dr. Cathy Beck-Cross, Associate Professor of Social Work
  • Deborah Gannon; Registrar and Institutional Research Assoc
  • Rev. Bob Chell, M.Div.
  • Rev. Sarah Ciavarri, M.Div., PCC
  • Rev. Nicole Woodley, M.Div

Have a Question? I Can Help.

Dr. Trisha Wheelock
The Moses Project, Program Director
Lecturer of Religion
Rev. Dr. Russ Lackey
Project Manager of The Moses Project
Senior Campus Pastor