Partner Highlight: Center for Ministry at Millsaps College

At Faith in Women we talk a lot about thriving in our vision for Mississippi’s most vulnerable women and girls. And we believe that the opportunity to grow and flourish is something that every person deserves. That is why we are excited to highlight the work of the Center for Ministry at Millsaps College, in particular their newest program Thriving in Ministry focused on supporting clergywomen across the South.

About the Center for Ministry

Formed in 1998 as a partnership between Millsaps College and the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC), the Center for Ministry supports faith leaders through lifelong learning programs, including continuing education classes, spiritual direction training, and spiritual formation programs. Rev. Paige Swaim-Presley, an ordained elder and spiritual director n the UMC, has served as Executive Director of the Center since 2016. In an article about her leadership of the Center, Rev. Swaim-Presley spoke of her commitment to expanding their offerings for learning: “I am passionate about creating opportunities for all people, particularly clergy and laity within the United Methodist tradition that is so uniquely a part of Millsaps College’s identity.” 

Faith in Women and the Center for Ministry have a strong relationship, partnering on projects like 2017’s Called to Courage event at Millsaps College and a training series for clergy and youth leaders on teen dating violence prevention.

Thriving in Ministry Program

Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, the Center for Ministry has established a new program called Thriving in Ministry which focuses on supporting the ministry of clergywomen across the South. We are thrilled that Faith in Women member Rev. Elizabeth Henry has been named the program director of this exciting new initiative which will “support, resource, and empower clergywomen toward thriving during a key season of professional transition: as they prepare for, or begin, their first pastorate as a solo or senior pastor.”

Why focus specifically on clergywomen?

Women remain less likely than men to lead the largest churches or to be senior pastors of mid-sized congregations; they are more likely to be associates; and they also receive less on average in compensation. The specific challenges clergywomen in leadership face are particularly concerning because they include a lack of opportunity for authenticity and membership in the larger clergy community, struggles in their relationships with significant others, challenges in attending to personal care and renewal, and difficulty in identifying role models and mentors, all of which the Flourishing in Ministry study (Notre Dame) identifies as extremely important for cultivating pastoral well-being. This makes the challenges women face as they prepare for or transition into leadership as solo or senior pastors all the more urgent, and all the more important, to address.

This program will have three 15-month cohorts and will include:

  • Ecumenical peer groups 
  • Large-group retreats
  • Restorative activities
  • Congregational training
  • Spiritual direction/coaching

Are you or someone you know a clergywoman interested in this program?

Applications for the first cohort will be accepted through May 31. Learn more about the program and how to apply at