Young Clergy Initiative to Fund Sierra Service Project Leadership Academy

August 13, 2014

Sacramento, CA – Sierra Service Project (SSP), the UM-affiliated youth ministry organization has been award funds for a Transformational Leadership Academy from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s (GBHEM) Young Clergy Initiative. SSP provides full-time, paid, summer employment each year to over forty young leaders from the United Methodist Church and other denominations. There are dozens of clergy serving churches in the Western Jurisdiction who trace their call to ordained ministry to their Sierra Service Project experience.
The purpose of the academy will be to help SSP staff members develop their leadership skills and discern how those skills can be put to use in their careers both within and outside of the Church. The funds, totally $23,820, will be used to hire experienced experts in the field of Christian leadership cultivation to develop curriculum, lead retreats, and provide a one-on-one mentoring process for Academy fellows. 
Eight of SSP’s summer staff members will be selected to participate in the year-long leadership development program. These “fellows” will meet with experienced, paid leaders twice throughout the year, and every month over the phone. The goal is to improve their leadership skills and help to discern their life-long calling to live out their Christian faith through service to others.
In the 2014 summer, forty-two young adults worked with over 1,800 volunteers in six impoverished communities throughout the western states. The California-Nevada conference was represented by eleven of these staff members who will finish their employment with SSP on August 15.
It is the hope of SSP that this financial gift from the United Methodist Church will enhance SSP’s ability to train future leaders and strengthen not only their own organization, but also all of the faith communities who raise such exceptional servants.