Rev. Carol Pinkham Oak
From 2000 to 2006 she served as associate rector at Christ Church, Alexandria, VA, where she developed the Transition in Ministry program, a mentoring and leadership formation process for newly ordained Episcopal priests. From 2008 to 2016 she was part of the Ministry Residency Program, a cohort of teaching congregations.
Carol has served large urban and suburban parishes as well as small parishes over the course of 33 years of ordained ministry. She retired in 2016 as rector from St. John’s Episcopal Church, a congregation of 1,800 members and a parish day school in Ellicott City, MD, in order to serve the church in new and innovative ways.
Carol believes that learning and leading in the Christian life requires the engagement of heart, mind, and spirit. Throughout her ministry she has learned from experienced clergy and lay people who deeply integrated their faith in Christ with daily decisions and actions. Wise guidance for ministry today unfolds in lively conversations about life in the parish. These conversations reveal the bigger picture of the strengths and challenges for congregations, the common themes of how clergy are being coached to meet those strengths and challenges, how these executive leaders emotionally, spiritually and organizationally equip themselves to live with uncertainty, and how they are aware that the scope of their ministry is limited to the clergy and people within their region. She believes that over time the development of Thriving in Ministry can be a resource for clergy, dioceses, and lay leaders.
Rev. Dr. David Gortner
David is the Principal Investigator for Thriving in Ministry at Virginia Theological Seminary. He has led several other Lilly Endowment initiatives on clergy effectiveness, including two nationwide studies of clergy leadership, the Clergy into Action Study (2011-2015) and Towards a Higher Quality of Christian Ministry (1998-2003), the Second Three Years program (2009-2011), and the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort initiative to recruit and strengthen young adults for ordained ministry (2002-2004).
An Episcopal priest and psychologist, David served 20 years in seminary education in three different cities as professor of practical and pastoral theology, evangelism, and congregational leadership, as director of research, doctoral programs, continuing education, and as associate dean for church and community engagement.
David has taught, led, and practiced in the areas of clergy leadership, congregational vitality, evangelism, community engagement, human development, mental and spiritual health, and mission. He has served in multiple congregations across the country as priest, church planter, musician, and minister of youth and young adults, and has co-led teams directing regional and national efforts to support church planting, young adult ministry, multicultural ministry, and community organizing, and mental health ministry. He has also served as a chaplain and counselor in hospice, hospital, university, and nonprofit agency settings. At three different seminaries, he has expanded and intensified programs, including doctoral programs, continuing education programs, partnerships, and focused training initiatives.
David is married to the Rev. Heather Van Deventer, who is dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Spokane, WA. Following a move with their children across the country, David has stepped out of seminary education and moved once again into parish ministry as rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Coeur d’Alene, ID. He continues to write, consult, and lead in regional and national initiatives. He is the author of Transforming Evangelism (Church Publishing, 2008); Around One Table (CREDO Institute, 2009: web publication); and Varieties of Personal Theology: Charting the Beliefs and Values of American Young Adults (Ashgate Publishing Co., 2013), as well as a series of articles on clergy leadership development and mentoring. He is the primary author of Clergy into Action.
Carolyn Crouch is the Thriving in Ministry Project Administrator. She is a main point of contact for Thriving in Ministry participants and handles the program’s administrative tasks.