A Program of Esperanza funded by the Lilly Endowment

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”

– Acts 20:28

Renovación Pastoral (Pastoral Renewal) is a program of Esperanza funded by the Lilly Endowment. It is one of 74 similar pastoral care initiatives supported by the endowment.  Renovación Pastoral aims to support new pastoral couples in their first years of service to the Latino communities of Philadelphia, Allentown, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading. Through Renovación Pastoral, we offer them a sacred space to be affirmed, to learn, and to be nurtured through mentoring that is focused on both spiritual and practical matters. Esperanza connects pastoral couples in their first years of ministry with active and retired veteran pastors who have demonstrated longevity and success in local ministry, helping the younger pastors to transition successfully into congregational leadership, while building a pastoral legacy for the well-seasoned religious leaders of the Latino communities of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Program Purpose and Goals

The purpose of Renovación Pastoral is to respond to the challenges facing pastors serving the Latino communities of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Through intergenerational mentoring, we will affirm, nurture, and provide educational opportunities for pastoral couples seeking balance in ministry within the Latino context. Our goals are to reduce isolation, increase pastoral understanding, and avoid burnout through networking, mentoring, and training/educational opportunities. Pastors and/or Pastoral couples will be mentored at a 1:3 ratio by well-seasoned pastoral couples within our broader network who have been in ministry for more than 20 years. Several of these potential senior mentor pastoral couples have been in ministry for close to 50 years. We recruit and provide mentor orientation and training to these well-seasoned veteran pastoral couples over the life of the project.

Program Activities

Through Renovación Pastoral, Esperanza proposes to organize three cohorts of approximately 24 new pastor-participants, with each cohort working together for a period of about 14 months. We will recruit these new pastors through our extensive networks within the Latino faith communities of Philadelphia, Allentown, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading (all cities in Southeastern Pennsylvania with significant Hispanic populations). These new pastoral couples will be matched with veteran pastoral couples who have at least 20 years of experience in congregational leadership. Each veteran pastoral couple will mentor three new pastoral couples, meeting with them regularly throughout the 14-month program period for both formal and informal activities.

Each cohort would kick off with a program orientation for participating pastors, at which they would receive a comprehensive introduction to Renovación Pastoral, meet and build relationships with the other members of their cohort, and become acquainted with the Esperanza program team. Following the orientation, participants would be introduced to their veteran pastor-mentors in an organized group setting, where Esperanza staff can help to facilitate the meetings and set realistic expectations for the mentoring relationship.

Throughout the 14-month period, each of the 24 new pastors would meet on a bi-monthly basis with his/her veteran pastor-mentor. These meetings could be as simple as an informal conversation over a cup of coffee, or might involve more formal activities, such as attending a relevant lecture or seminar together and discussing its implications. The veteran pastor-mentors might visit with their mentees at their congregations, and even help their mentees to speak with congregational lay leaders about difficult subjects or challenges facing their churches.

During the months when they are not meeting with their mentors, the new pastors would gather together as a group for networking, which we believe will have both personal and professional benefits. Esperanza will host bi-monthly gatherings in “lab and training” style. The mornings of these gatherings will be facilitated by experts in specialized fields, such as theologians, psychologists, sociologists, and therapists to share in a more intimate setting than at conferences. The afternoons are designed as labs for engaging in small group dialogues, practicing with helpful tools and breaking bread together for some relational time. As they begin to build relationships with their fellow participants, we will encourage the new pastors to consider engaging in small joint projects, and Esperanza will offer small grants ranging from $500 – $1,000 to these new pastors for collaborative projects with other clergy or congregations.

In addition to the bi-monthly networking sessions, we will host annual “vision trips” for the new pastor cohorts. Part of the goal is for these pastors to observe how other pastors and ministries have managed through their transitions. Esperanza has organized similar trips in the past. For example; in Boston, we’ve taken a group of 14 ministers to visit Leon de Juda (a large Latino congregation in Boston) and learn about their work with pastors and youth leaders. We met with their leadership to dialogue about their pastoral team structure and how this structure helps urban churches share the pastoral burden and avoid isolation and burnout. These trips are intended to help pastors better engage with the culture of their churches and to address the social and ethical changes in the society surrounding them. In our experience, a side-benefit of these overnight trips is that they help build camaraderie and long-term friendships among clergy.


Esperanza Youth Leadership Institute

The Esperanza Youth Leadership Institute is a collaborative leadership development organization that inspires vision, provides educational opportunities at the grassroots and degree level and develops resources for those that work with Latino youth and beyond. EYLI is a subsidiary of Esperanza and a partner of Esperanza College. It strengthens the missional capacity of the body of Christ to reach, disciple and give voice to young people to become agents of transformation in our urban communities. Pastoral couples participating in Renovación Pastoral, will have the opportunity to enroll their youth ministry in the Esperanza Youth Leadership Institute program at priority.

For more information visit https://www.esperanza.us/eyli/