Thanks to generous grant funding, members of Rev. Jessica Stenstrom’s PACE Group visited Lake Tahoe for the “Elevation” worship workshop retreat

Pastors Reap Benefits of PaCE Groups

September 2, 2016 | | GNJ News

With the challenges of ministry, burnout can be real. Now entering its second year, PaCE groups,  a resource initiated by Greater New Jersey to provide clergy with peer learning opportunities, allow clergy a time away from the church to learn, pray and play with colleagues.

“It can be hard working in a small church as a solo pastor,” said Rev. Kyle Cuperwich, pastor of Califon UMC. “My PaCE group gave me a time to connect with my ‘co-workers,’ develop ideas for ministry and simply have some much-needed fellowship. It was a blessing.”

Enrollment for the upcoming season of PaCE groups is currently ongoing with groups slated to begin this October. Pastors can choose from the following pre-selected topics: “Fishing in New Frontiers: Missional Practice in the New Mission Field,” facilitated by Director of Mission and Multi-Cultural Missions Nicole Caldwell-Gross. “Designing Sermon Series,” facilitated by Director or Worship Eric Drew, or “Effective Time Management as a Spiritual Discipline,” facilitated by Director of Small Groups Ministry, Rev. Beth Caulfield. Another option is for pastros to form their  own PaCE group by drafting a purpose and curriculum, which an assigned facilitator will help navigate through.

With a new season of PaCE groups set to begin, Trey Wince, Director of New Disciples will be overseeing the program. “I have two hopes; that pastors would not feel alone and that we would continue to strive for excellence,” said Wince. “If ministry is worth doing; it is worth doing well.”

Each PaCE group has a curriculum focus for continued learning with and from peers in as pastors strive for continuing excellence personally and as pastoral leaders. Wince said he hopes it will become the norm and expectation for pastors to be part of a PaCE group. Groups will be added each year and a bank of curricula is being developed that can be used by the group.

Wince compared PaCE groups to the small group ministry model of local churches. He said that while it’s likely that pastors will be part of small groups in their ministry setting, they often are not able to fully be present and vulnerable because of their role as pastor. Wince said PaCE gives pastors an opportunity to be in a small group with colleagues.

“Being part of a PaCE group allows much needed time away from the busyness of the church to focus on the gifts and graces we have been blessed with as individuals, leaders, and as people called by God. It’s where we come together to explore creative and imaginative ways in which we can put these gifts to use for the spiritual development of the church as a whole,” said Rev. Iraida Ruiz, pastor of Christ UMC in Lakewood.

“PaCE groups also have the option of applying for grants, up to $2,500 per year, to allow the group to attend a conference or workshop together,” added Wince. Grant deadlines are Oct. 1, 2016 and Feb. 15, 2017 with a requirement that a group has been meeting for four months.

For additional information about PaCE groups,  call Trey Wince at (732)359-1046 or email him at