Exciting Changes for the Mutual Ministry Initiative 

Date: July 27, 2023

As Project Manager for two VTS Lilly Endowment grants (Mutual Ministry Initiative – MMi; Baptized for Life – BFL), and the coordinator for our other grant initiatives within the Department of Lifelong Learning, it is always wonderful to receive year-end grant report approval letters from our funder. For MMi, a multi-year grant which aims to meet the urgent need for clergy and lay leaders trained as ministry developers for culturally-specific contexts across a changing church landscape, the work to adapt theological education and formation in a residential seminary is bold and ambitious. In MMi’s recent approval letter, our funder affirmed the progress made during the first project year (2022), noting we built “a strong infrastructure” and “partnerships” while stating interest in “seeing how the pivots you are making contribute to the ongoing impact and sustainability of your work.”  

During its first year, MMi has benefited from the expertise and groundwork of its founding director, the Rev. Canon Lydia Bucklin, alongside the tremendous support given by both Dean Markham and Vice President Knowles, who have expressed their desire for baptismal ecclesiology at the heart of Mutual Ministry to be more than just a grant initiative but woven into the fabric of seminary formation for students at VTS. To that end, we have aligned our grant resources to focus on building a robust mutual ministry pathway through the VTS Masters curriculum.  

  • The Rev. Canon Lydia Bucklin, whose time was graciously on loan from the Diocese of Northern Michigan, has transitioned from Project Director to the Project’s Senior Advisor. This shift will allow Lydia’s gifts to be focused particularly on the external collaborations and mentoring we need for mutual ministry to be sustained across the Church.  
  • Given the grant’s emphasis on institutional impact,  MMi will now live in the Dean’s Office and Dean Markham will serve as the Project Director.  
  • Recognizing the demands on Dean Markham’s time and the need for curricular expertise, he has asked the Rev. Dr. Patricia Lyons, currently his Senior Advisor on Evangelism, to serve as Lead Consultant on MMi.  

I am excited to be part of this expansion and vision. As we head into the Fall, MMi will host 14 bishops on-campus for a three-day Bishops’ Collaborative gathering, launch our CXM opportunities for students, and continue working on supportive curriculum and resources. Learn more about the project and access resources like Mutual Ministry 101 here. 

Kim Arakawa
Project Manager, Mutual Ministry & Baptized for Life Initiatives
Coordinator – Lifelong Initiatives Team

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