The Massachusetts Council of Churches recognizes the continued struggles of pastors serving in part-time ministry positions across Massachusetts.  We’re hearing this both from leaders of our member denominations and through our regular visits to local congregations. As part-time positions are rapidly increasing in New England, we see three major barriers to thriving in part-time ministry: financial pressure, time management, and pastoral identity.

The Lydia Fellows program will address these barriers by increasing connectivity, esteem, authenticity, and engagement through financially compensated fellowships.

2020 Lydia Fellows

Minister Ylisse Bess

Minister Ylisse Bess is a Hospital Chaplain with Beth Israel Deaconess Center. Minister Ylisse graduated with a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology.

Rev. Eric R. Litman

The Rev. Eric R. Litman is the priest of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Newtonville, Massachusetts. In addition to parish ministry, he also works as an environmental scientist. Eric is passionate about inter-religious dialogue and is involved in a variety of inter-religious organizations focused on building relationships across difference.

Rev. Miniard Culpepper

Rev. Miniard Culpepper is the Senior Pastor of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where he has served for the past 21 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University, a law degree from Suffolk University Law School, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University, and currently works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rev. Culpepper has worked on numerous local and national political campaigns serving as senior campaign official for 2 former US Presidents (Kennedy & Clinton). He is a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia bars. In addition to all this, he is a dedicated family man, he has 2 adult sons of whom he is extremely proud.

Elder Reginald Smalls

Elder Reginald Smalls has been married to Monica for over 30 years and they have two sons, Marquis & Isaiah. After serving in youth ministry for over 25 years he was installed as the Senior Pastor at Bethel Pentecostal Church in Dorchester, MA in 2014. He currently works for Safeguard Security & Surveillance as a sales representative but most importantly he loves the Lord!

Pastor Sarah Raquel Gautier

Pastor Sarah Raquel Gautier has devoted her life to building people up to live alive in wholeness for purpose. Living in Boston for 11 years, she has served Latinx and Black communities as a small business attorney, a youth pastor, and a youth development non-profit leader. Currently, Sarah is the Lead Pastor of Living Stones (a church gathering at CrossFit Jeffries Point in East Boston) and they are asking the question: "What does it look like for a faith community to partner with small business owners to meet the needs of the neighborhood?"

Rev. Kevin Holland Sparrow

The Rev. Kevin Holland Sparrow is rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Hanover, Massachusetts where he has served since October 2018. A native of Georgia, Kevin is a graduate of the University of the South and Harvard Divinity School. He is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry in Liturgy degree at The School of Theology of the University of the South. In his spare time, he enjoys horseback riding, travel, and mystery novels.

Rev. Christine Keddy

The Reverend Christine Keddy is the Director of Missions and the Elder Ministry Coordinator for The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. Reverend Keddy is also an adjunct faculty at Lasell University.

Rev. Douglas Stivison

Rev. Douglas Stivison is the pastor of the First Congregational Church at Lund’s Corner in New Bedford. He holds a Master of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary and has served both Presbyterian and Congregational churches in New Jersey and Massachusetts for the past twenty years.

Kristina Keefe-Perry

Kristina Keefe-Perry is a mom, bicyclist, gardener, and Quaker minister from Arlington, MA. She is one of the Hosts of Three Rivers Meeting, an open and affirming spiritual community rooted in the Christian tradition of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Rev. Diane Wong

The Rev. Diane Wong was ordained to the priesthood in 2003 in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Rev. Diane holds a master’s degree in Divinity and Teaching English as a Second Language. Her parish ministry includes serving parishes here in the diocese and serving as an appointed missionary priest to an expatriate congregation in Taipei Taiwan in 2006-2010. Currently, Rev. Diane serves as rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, MA, and is an ESL teacher with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) in Roslindale.

About the Program

The Lydia Fellows Program will support Pastoral fellows who will meet over the course of 1 year for retreats, fellowship, pastoral support and peer coaching. Through these gatherings and ongoing peer support, we will increase connectivity among part-time pastors; we will increase the esteem for the skills, creativity, and complexity involved in part-time ministry; and we will increase the sense of authenticity and engagement among pastors serving in part-time positions. Ultimately, the Mass Council of Churches desires to create spaces for pastors to flourish in part-time settings, providing new models of vibrant ministry for the Church in Massachusetts.

This program will support pastors from a wide variety of denominations and traditions who work in the Church in less than full time positions.  These pastors may identify as part-time, bi-vocational, underemployed, or as working multiple jobs out of economic necessity.

The Massachusetts Council of Churches offers generous stipends to Lydia Fellows for their time in the program with hopes of making learning and peer consultations possible for a new group of pastors seeking to grow in community and share best practices for supporting part-time ministry.

Our Goals

  • Increase the connectivity among part-time pastors, developing networks of support
  • Increase the esteem for the skills, creativity, and complexity involved in part-time ministry
  • Increase the sense of authenticity and engagement among pastors serving in part-time settings

Apply to the Lydia Fellows Program

We are currently accepting applications for our next Lydia Fellows cohort.

Review Application Requirements