April 27, 2005 By Terri Hiers*
Mary Ann Moman
Tenn. (UMNS)—An initiative aimed at keeping the fingers of the United
Methodist Church on the "pulse" of the millennial generation has been
unveiled to church leaders responsible for helping young people make
of the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort, or PLSE (pronounced "pulse"),
debuted resources designed to help congregations and campus ministries
identify gifted young people and encourage them to explore a call to the
ministry. The presentation was made to 100 church leaders from across
the country April 18-19. Research by the now-defunct United Methodist
Council on Ministries indicates that fewer than 3 percent of United
Methodist clergy are between the ages of 25 and 30.
United Methodist Church is among four denominations in the cooperative
venture, launched by the Atlanta-based Fund for Theological Education
Inc., and funded in part by a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.
The church, through the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and
Ministry, is contributing to the project as part of its efforts to
cultivate a new generation of leaders for the denomination, reconnect
young people with the church, and rebuild the educational pipeline.
addition to the United Methodist Church, other partners in the
initiative are the Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church and the
United Church of Christ. Each denomination has a Fund for Theological
Education coordinator and is conducting PLSE programs in its
The conference was
"the first national event for United Methodist leaders responsible for
enlistment within annual conferences," said the Rev. David Fuquay, the
fund’s United Methodist coordinator. Participants, including
representatives from boards of ordained ministry, pastors, campus
ministers and annual conference staff, received training on how to use
PLSE resources and introduce them to groups in their areas.
Bishop Dan E. Solomon
have a tremendous opportunity to cultivate leadership in this
generation of young people," Fuquay told the group. His statement echoed
opening remarks by retired United Methodist Bishop Dan Solomon,
chairman of the United Methodist PLSE Advisory Board.
had referred to Jesus’ words, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers
are few," saying that the quotation offers a "theology of opportunity,
not a theology of scarcity. We must focus on ‘the harvest is plentiful.’
... If you begin out of that conviction, the harvest is waiting to be
Rev. Mary Ann Moman, who leads the United Methodist Division of
Ordained Ministry, said she expects the initiative to launch a
grass-roots movement in congregations to "look at God’s call to all
people and how we can talk about it." Moman was among the gathering’s
is important to keep encouraging young people as leaders, and to foster
a culture of the call," said participant Jack Terrell-Wilkes,
coordinator of ministerial recruitment and nurture for the
denomination’s Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference. "We must develop
arenas where ministry is seen as a viable vocational option."
Terrell-Wilkes said his conference has been doing similar work for the
past five years.
a keynote address on the "Culture of the Call," the Rev. David
McAlister-Wilson, president of United Methodist-related Wesley
Theological Seminary, invited participants to connect with United
Methodist seminaries in a cooperative effort to form students as dynamic
church leaders. He also urged participants to allow young people to
teach them how to transform the church’s bureaucracy back into a
movement for mission and ministry. "I have seen the future, and it is
Wesleyan," he said.
limited-edition versions of a resource package, which included videos
for church leaders and young people, accompanying leaders’ guides, a
PowerPoint presentation and text presentations. The resources, designed
to target those ages 16-25, will be widely available in May.
The Rev. David Fuquay
with links to resources and other information, PLSE’s Web site offers
interactive access to young people to conduct online chats with their
peers. Fuquay emphasized that the site is monitored for appropriateness,
is accessible only through a protected password, and includes a
database for names of young leaders nominated by their congregations to
participate in the PLSE project.
More information on PLSE is available at the organization’s Web site, www.theplse.org,
or from Fuquay at email@example.com or (404) 727-1416. Additional
information about the Fund for Theological Education, which provides
fellowships and develops programs for theological and ministerial
support, is available at www.thefund.org.
is the executive director for the Office of Interpretation for the
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville,