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New LEAD Cohorts begin in January

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A new group of  LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Cohorts will start in January 2018. LEAD Cohorts are online meeting places for small groups of Mennonite Brethren pastors and leaders who are interested in a specific subject or in gathering with like-minded people. LEAD Cohorts are one way USMB works to enhance the ministry of local church pastors and leaders while also fostering connections between U.S. Mennonite Brethren church staff across the country.

“The purpose of cohorts is to provide a place for pastors and leaders to delve into a relevant topic with others,” says Don Morris, USMB national director. “This results in good discussions, learning from one another and sharpening skills in a certain area of ministry.”

Cohorts are also intended to encourage pastors and church leaders to network, says Morris.

“We’re working at developing initiatives for pastors and leaders to connect with others and for churches to connect with other churches,” he says. “Cohorts are a major part of that strategy.”

Cohort sessions are typically 60 to 90 minutes and use Zoom Video Communications, a company that provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing. Cohorts meet for three to four months and are free, except for the cost of a book(s).

“Participants get to meet others they may not know very well while at the same time learning new things about ministry,” Morris says. “It’s hard to beat.”

Topics addressed in January cohorts will include expository preaching led by Jared Pulliam, pastor of Christ Church Sellwood in Portland, Ore.; spiritual formation with Chandelle Claassen, a trained spiritual director and life coach from Newton, Kan.; and pastoral counseling taught by John Oelze, pastoral staff member at First MB Church in Wichita, Kan. Pat Coyle, pastor at Shafter (Calif.) MB Church will facilitate a cohort for pastors to visit with ministry peers about common issues and Russ Claassen, Southern District Conference youth minister, will host a group focusing on youth ministry.

Morris anticipates adding two additional cohorts to the options. A complete list of LEAD Cohorts is posted online at and will be updated as more options become available.

Individuals interested in participating in one of the winter 2018 cohorts are encouraged to register as soon as possible as the number of participants in each cohort is limited. To register, email Lori Taylor (




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