Together In Ministry – Clergy Support Groups

During the spring of 2000, because of the stresses of the pandemic on ministers, PBA started to provide group support for the ministers of the PBA community. The purpose of the group (following the aotearod, Peer Support Guidelines) was to rely on authentic two-way/ trust-based encounter as mutually beneficial; recognize that empowerment, empathy, hope and choice comes from hearing someone who has walked your path, in the past and in the present; and grounded in the belief that people are their own greatest resource…sharing experiences that result in fortitude and resilience for all.

The intent was to gather ministers intergenerationally for the purpose of exposing younger ministers to the wisdom of their elders. And for the seasoned ministers to hear about new ideas and current technologies for ministry.

After canvassing the minsters in the PBA community, the first three groups began in January 2021.  In September 2022, an additional group has been added.  If you are interested in joining a group contact Rev. Julia Bruton Sheppard at and/or Ms. Janet Reedy at For complete details please review the attached flyer.

Christ and Cultural Humility

PBA is excited to offer this new initiative that will teach the transformative concepts of cultural humility theory rooted in Christ’s teachings. Congregations will gain the knowledge and skills set needed to genuinely engage the different demographic groups it wants to reach within the church and community.

This is a middle judicatory’s effort to engage member churches in embracing the current demographic and generational shifts that will impact congregational life for decades to come. Irrational fear of these shifts drives congregations toward an isolated inward focus leading to decline and death.  In this initiative congregations are encouraged to become effective continuous learning organizations that embrace the increasing diversity in the Metropolitan area and the neighborhoods they serve. Other-centered listening, learning, service, and the building of coalitions for change within the church and community are the hallmark of this initiative. The entire Association participates including the Board of Directors, Steering Committee, Pastors, and church leaders. This initiative enables PBA congregations to learn together and to learn from each other in addressing the adaptive change needed to face the dramatic shifts ahead.

In this two-year initiative, humility –a core value of Christian Discipleship– is matched with the tenants of Cultural Humility. Through the study of discipleship outlined in the Beatitudes, cross-cultural relationship building modeled by Christ, and the tenants of Cultural Humility the participants evaluate the practices of their church. They learn to listen for the leading of the Spirit through the perspectives of church and community members and to initiate adaptive change experiments that bring vibrancy to the church community.  A desired outcome is to foster the development of authentic multicultural and intergenerational congregational life. Diversity is embraced and leveraged as a gift of empowerment given to the church by all of its members. Equity in community life and accountability in advocacy for justice are desired outcomes as well.

Learning Teams formed by PBA congregations are trained in leading adaptive change and conducting experiments to address power imbalances within the congregation. The participating congregations will support the work of their Learning Teams and celebrate the development of a new ministry or initiative in the church or neighborhood. Transformation does not end at the conclusion of the two-year program. The Pastor and Learning Team will continue to assist the congregation in the practices of an effective continuous learning organization. Every facet of the initiative will be evaluated to document the impact at the local church level and the interaction between PBA congregations.

WHO: Pastors select the “Learning Team” (LT) that the CCH program will train and mentor.

WHAT: The LT members will choose a church issue to work through, applying their training.  The LT will share its training with the congregation for future ministry endeavors.

WHEN: The program runs over two-year period and meets monthly January to December (excluding July and August (on Zoom and in person.)

HOW: PBA will provide all resources.  Local professionals and clergy will train and mentor.

 For more information contact the PBA office, at 215-482-8222, or by email at

Annual Mission Café

The Annual Mission Café is designed for lay leaders to provide leadership in mission promotion, mission education, and the allocation of missing giving within their congregation (PBA).  Clergy are invited and asked to bring lay leaders with them whom they work in the mission ministry of the church, and youth participants.  

 Emphasis is given to the importance of keeping mission work at the forefront, as the church’s expression of the faith and service. The leaders will hold conversations that help each congregation to engage the congregation members in mission activity.

Each year the café will highlight the work of one of the PBA congregations.  An outstanding mission outreach strategy (model) that engages congregants in mission promotion, education or financial support will be lifted up and discussed with the participants. In addition, three “Powerful Questions” will be discussed at the table which engage the participants in appreciative inquiry and in meaningful dialogue.

Annual Missiological Conversation

The congregations of the Philadelphia Baptist Association have practiced interdependence as partners in Christ’s Mission since 1707.  PBA clergy is invited to the conversation tables for a time of reflection, fellowship, and discernment of the call of Christ to the Church today.  Some key features of the annual missiological conversation include:

  • The PBA Ministers Council will serve as conveners (host) of the Annual Conversations with the help of a steering committee of PBA Clergy. The PBA Board of Directors is a co-sponsor of the event.
  • The conversations will promote networking and mutual support for clergy across the region. Networking is promoted among the clergy to implement (make operational) the learnings garnered from the conversations. The conversations are not focused on controlling outcomes
  • PBA Clergy have direct input in the direction, design, and implementation of the annual event
  • PBA Clergy are to be invited to serve as presenters of the strategies and/or mission models to be employed on the specific topics addressed
  • Keynote speakers (local & national) and/or panels will be invited to set the tone for the conversations at the annual event
  • We will employ the Mission Summit conversation model utilized by ABCUSA (Mission Summit) and the PBA (Passion for Mission Café)
  • The themes for our conversations will include important and current controversial issues in our society which are to be presented in a dialogical format that is not to be understood as policy statements of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, but rather an opportunity for our clergy to understand the differences of perspective that they (our congregations) may hold.

In 2022, the annual mission café and missiological conversation were combined into one event.  Clergy and laity attended “A Future with Hope – Resilient Responses in COVID-Era Ministry” event held on May 24.  The event was co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Baptist Association (PBA), the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), the American Baptist Churches USA and Judson Press.