Thriving Leadership Formation

Practice, Learning, Friendship


Anything good and life-changing begins within small groups of people who trust one another. The goal of our Cohorts is to foster and equip spiritual leaders for new models of ministry and church. These small groups are communities of practice, learning and friendship… places for you and others to form meaningful relationships built on trust. Membership is open to rostered and non-rostered leaders in ELCA Regions 1 and 2.

The next round of Cohorts will begin in Fall 2022. We are currently recruiting interested individuals!  Are you interested in participating in a group or serving as a leader? Complete the form below:

Synod Cohorts

Organized around ELCA Synods in Regions 1 and 2





Northwest Intermountain

People in ministry in the Northwest Intermountain Synod of the ELCA:

  • You desire to be grounded in your life, but are pulled in many directions.
  • You yearn for deep connection – to God, to others, to yourself – but are not sure where to start.
  • You are curious about spiritual practices – silence, deep listening, prayer – but are not very good at practicing them on your own.

Together, we will learn again to pay attention to our lives and our communities and rediscover God’s sustaining presence in our midst.

We will gather on Zoom from 9:00-10:30 AM PACIFIC / 10:00-11:30 AM MOUNTAIN. Tuesday mornings Oct. 19, Nov. 2, Nov. 16, then the first and third Tuesdays through March (actually the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tuesdays of March).

Interested? Contact Pastor Meggan Manlove at



Are you going through a time of significant transition (and let’s be honest – who isn’t right now!)? Perhaps this or another cohort would be a beneficial and life-giving space for you. This will be a group of Pacifica Rostered Leaders meeting to accompany one another through a series of spiritual practices, in order to hold space to listen – to one another and to the Spirit of God – to discern: what’s going on in us, and what’s next?


Rocky Mountain

The Rocky Mountain Synod, in conjunction with the Thriving Leadership Formation (TLF) Program (in its second year of a five year Lilly Grant) is looking for 6-9 Pastors/Deacons to journey together through a personal exploration of the greatest commandment (Love God, love yourself, love your neighbor). Pastor and Spiritual Director, DanaLee Simon (Salt Lake City, UT), will be convening this group which will gather over ZOOM, bimonthly, for 12 sessions. In each gathering, we will be centered in prayer, self-reflection, honest sharing, deep listening, and discovering the flow between feeding our own spirits and thriving within the ministry contexts we each serve. There is a curriculum and also space and flexibility to make this gathering what the group needs it to be. Each session simply requires you to show up and trust that God will, too. Just as you are. Ready to be. Open to sharing. Curious about where the Spirit might be leading. Please reach out to DanaLee with questions (


Southwest California

Who am I in this new era of ministry? Many of us who have led through Covid-19 are discovering that we are now different in significant ways. This is true of pastors, deacons, and all committed congregational leaders. Some parts of us are thriving anew. Some parts continue to languish. Explore who you are becoming in a supportive and devoted small group setting spanning from the Central Coast to Los Angeles. Rostered and non-rostered leaders welcome.


Southwest Washington

People in ministry, either in churches or in the community, who are affiliated with congregations in the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA:

  • You desire to be grounded in your life, but are pulled in many directions.
  • You yearn for deep connection – to God, to others, to your own heart – but aren’t sure where to start.
  • You are curious about contemplative practices – silence, deep listening, prayer – but aren’t very good at practicing them on your own.

Together, let’s learn again to pay attention to our lives, and rediscover God’s sustaining presence in our midst.


At Large Cohorts

Organized around a particular group or theme

Black, Indigenous, People of Color


First Call

If ministry isn’t what you expected, you are not alone – even if it feels like it some (most) of the time. For pastors in a first call anywhere other than the synod hub, ministry can be lonely and daunting. We face unique challenges in leading congregations to follow Jesus in new, often uncomfortable, public ways bearing witness to the gospel’s opposition to any and all systems that dehumanize God’s beloved people. We can’t do this alone and we don’t have to. Join us.



WHO? LGBTQIA+ ordained pastors, deacons, seminarians, and non-ordained congregational leaders; led by Rev. Drew Stever, Lead Pastor serving at Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood, CA. Those questioning and discerning identity welcome.

WHAT? A small group for LGBTQIA2S+ leaders in Regions 1 and 2 in the ELCA. Our time together will be formed around the needs of the community, including, but not limited to meditations, community processing, arts and crafts, and/or movement. This will be a time for us to be our full authentic selves with each other and for each other.

WHEN? We will gather for 12 sessions, to be scheduled, beginning in 2021 and carrying into 2022.

WHERE? We will meet virtually via Zoom.

WHY? We will come together because we are hungry for queer-centric, faith-specific spaces. We will come together with authenticity, bravery and realness. We will come together with the intent of supporting one another in our ministries, life-paths, and wonderings. We will come together because we cannot do this ourselves.

You can also contact Rev. Drew Stever (they/he) at with questions.


Non-congregational Settings

Are you a rostered leader serving in ministry beyond the congregation? Maybe in a school, hospital, non-profit, prison, or outdoor ministry? It’s been a wild 18 months and many of us are running on empty, longing for time and space to pause and make meaning, and desiring a greater sense of the Spirit in our lives and in the lives of our communities. This Thriving Leaders cohort group of rostered leaders serving beyond the congregation will provide time and space to connect, engage, and be renewed through spiritual practices and sacred community. Facilitated by Pastor Jen Rude, University Pastor at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA.

Tentative meeting time of Tuesdays, 10-11:30am, Pacific Time, via zoom.


Cohort enrollment is now live. Meetings start May 1. Fill out the form


Part-time Ministry

Some pastors and deacons are in part-time calls by choice. Some are not. For some, a part-time call is a challenging experience as they grapple with how to be in ministry in a way they were not trained for and with a congregation that may be struggling to come to terms with having a leader only part-time. For others, a part-time call is a life-giving experience as they focus on developing a sense of shared ministry with a congregation, or are able to express their call in a number of vocational opportunities. Regardless of where you find yourself, this group is meant to be a place where we can be refreshed for the particular expression of leadership. This group is for pastors and deacons in any synod of Regions 1 and 2.


Partners of Rostered Leaders

Is your partner “called” to ministry? This Thriving Leadership Formation cohort group is geared for partners of Roster Leaders in the ELCA. Whether you attend church or not, your partner is on their first call or last, this space is open to ALL who are a part of this unique role, if “role” is what it can even be called anymore. Our time together will consist of 12 meetings broken up into 3 parts: Love Of God, Love Of Self, and Love Of Others. We will gather over Zoom every other week on either Thursday evenings or an early weekday morning. We ask you to set aside 2 hours for each meeting. Join us in this safe space and connect with others who share this common thread, having a partner affixed to ministry.


Second Career Women in Ministry

Are you a second career female pastor, church leader, or seminarian? This group will provide a place for those of us who have entered ministry later than others, those bringing different life histories, skills, work experience, and relationships. My hope and prayer for this contemplative group is that we experience a place that is nourishing and safe. If this group appeals to you, please join us on this journey that promises to deepen our relationships with God, self, and neighbor.

Dates: November 2, 16, 30; December 14; January 11, 25; February 8, 22; March 8, 22; April 5, 19

Time will be 10:00am-11:30am or 3:00pm-4:30pm (please indicate your preferred time).


Spanish Speaking

Esta es una invitación abierta para todas las pastoras y pastores en ministerio latino para refrescarnos espiritualmente en comunidad en nuestra jornada pastoral a través de oración contemplativa, meditaciones, música, manualidades, arte y otras cosas mas. Se ofrecerán doce sesiones virtuales comenzando el martes 26 de octubre a las 2 pm (hora del Pacifico) y terminando el 8 de febrero, 2022 (10/26, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/30, 12/7, 1/4, 1/11. 1/18, 1/25, 2/1 y 2/8/22). Todo será en español. Si desea recibir más información y para inscribirse por favor comuníquese con la Rev. María Paiva

This is an open invitation for pastors in Latino Ministry to refresh ourselves spiritually in community through contemplative prayer, meditation, music, arts and crafts and many other ways. There will be 12 virtual sessions beginning Tuesday, October 26 at 2 pm (Pacific time) and concluding February 8, 2022 (10/26, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/30, 12/7, 1/4, 1/11. 1/18, 1/25, 2/1 y 2/8/22). Sessions will be in Spanish. If you would like more information or would like to register, please contact Rev. Maria Paiva at


Urban Ministry Cohort

This cohort is open to both rostered and non-rostered leaders in urban ministry contexts.


Youth Ministry Cohort

Who? Anyone serving in full or part time youth ministry positions in the ELCA. Led by Elizabeth Hood, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry Grace Lutheran Church Palo Alto, CA

What? A space to gather, support and strengthen our faith, to find community with people who understand what it means to serve in youth ministry, the joys and the frustrations.

When? We will gather for 12 sessions, to be scheduled, beginning in 2021 and carrying into 2022.

Where? We will meet virtually via Zoom.

Why? As youth leaders we don’t need to plan a million more events, we need real support to do our ministry effectively. You are invited to consider participating in this honest conversation about life and youth ministry. I hope you will consider joining us in this brave space to support each other in this crazy fun wild thing called youth ministry. Let’s vent and celebrate together!

You can also contact Elizabeth Hood at with questions.


Cohort Leaders

We are seeking people to serve as cohort leaders for both synod and at large groups (open to people throughout Regions 1 and 2). Each leader will go through training, receive support and compensation, convene and lead a group of church leaders through a shared curriculum. The groups are meant to be brave spaces that provide opportunity and encouragement for risk taking, learning of leadership skills, and developing new approaches to ministry that contribute to the larger community.

New Cohort Groups will begin in Fall 2022. TLF is currently recruiting individuals to serve as Cohort Leaders. Training for leaders will begin in September. 

Current & Previous Leaders

Amy Beveridge

Amy currently serves at Bethel Lutheran Church on the Central Coast of California where she has been for the the last ten years. She has lived and worked in rural areas most of her life. Prior to ordained ministry, she took on a number of odd jobs in education and in the outdoors as she sought a path that would bring her passions together. She enjoys traveling, raising her children, hiking, mountain biking, and weekends watching Formula 1 racing with her family. Her husband is a state park ranger and their little household also includes his K-9, Storm. The two are an explosives detection team for the State of California. Beyond supporting her family and their many callings, Amy is often restless for adventures, reads too much, overthinks most things, and generally tries to listen but can’t resist a good debate. In ministry, she loves growing with the young people of her church, teaching the Bible in all contexts, and making beautiful worship with her congregation.

Dan Carlson (he/him/they)

Hi, I’m Dan (he,him,they)! I’ll be right with you, I have to finish thinking about a thing…. Ok, done. I am a Pastor currently rostered in the Rocky Mountain Synod and serving in an interim capacity.  I’m originally from Colorado and I’m really happy to be back in the cradle of the Rocky Mountains, but I’ve also enjoyed my time on the coast in California where I met my wife and started our family of 2 children together.  I have served as a Pastor in 3 different congregations and as director of campus ministry in one setting.  In between doing all the things that makeup the life of a Pastor, Husband and Father I like to play.  I like to play inside, outside, sports, video games, with my children, on my bike… whatever distracts me from, and energizes me for, the hard work that we all are called to as the people of God in a broken world. I’m excited for this project, and all the growth, individually and collectively, that will come through this work.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

DanaLee Simon

DanaLee Simon is an ordained Minister, currently serving a non-stipendiary call as a Minister of Spiritual Life through the Rocky Mountain Synod. She is also a Certified Spiritual Director through the Spiritual Guidance Program at Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C. Spiritual direction is foundational to many aspects of her ministry. Along with connecting one on one with directees, she also teaches practices of Group Spiritual Direction. Over the past several years, the practice of self-compassion has become an important aspect of her ministry. She hosts a weekly self-compassion therapy group at a residential treatment program for high school girls and also enjoys leading retreats, classes, and practice groups around this topic. In her experience, it has been a beautiful tool for inviting more Love into the world. DanaLee lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and loves reading, getting out in Nature (ie. biking, hiking, cross country skiing), connecting with friends, writing, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two little boys.

Daniel Disch

Daniel’s bio is coming soon.

Drew Stever (they/he)

Rev. Drew Stever (they/he) serves as Lead Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood, CA. He came out as transgender one month before the 2016 presidential election and has found comfort in the freedom of the gospel ever since. Drew is passionate about empowering the LGBTQIA+ community, growing intersectional LGBTQIA-centric worship communities and experiences, and educating congregations about LGBTQIA+ issues, language, and experiences. Drew got his B.A. in religion from Hamline University and his Masters of Divinity from Luther Seminary, both in St. Paul, MN where he was born and raised. Drew now lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with his family and is an avid front yard birdwatcher.

Elizabeth Hood (she/her)

Elizabeth (she/her/hers) has served her congregation in Palo Alto, California as the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry for over 12 years. She loves hiking, camping and traveling around the world. She grew up in Hawai’i and is an alumna of Pacific Lutheran University. She also leads the Hospitality Team for the Extravaganza and serves on the planning team for the Western States Youth Gathering. Writing has become one her favorite new ways to connect to people and share her faith.

Hazel Salazar-Davidson (she/her/ella)

Rev. Hazel Salazar-Davidson (she/her/ella) serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Authentic Diversity, Inclusive Community and Service in the Sierra Pacific synod. She immigrated from Costa Rica to the U.S. at the young age of three. She was raised in California, and was educated in the San Gabriel Valley. The last decade of her life was spent living in Alaska with her late husband and three beautiful children, where the whole family became Lutherans! Through the art of storytelling, she is passionate about cultivating brave and honest spaces where communities can talk about topics such as race, gender, privilege and grief. She is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and PLTS where she completed her Lutheran Year through TEEM. Pastor Hazel Salazar-Davidson lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with her family. In her spare time Hazel enjoys painting, drawing and working with clay.

Jamie Misner (she/her)

Jamie Misner was born and raised in Minnesota, and it could be said in the ELCA as well. After attending the University of New Hampshire on a skiing scholarship and spending many summers at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, she married her camp love, Philip Misner, who currently serves as Assistant to the Bishop of the Northwest Intermountain Synod of the ELCA. Currently, she is a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Post Falls, Idaho. Besides being married to a pastor, working full time, a mom of 3 school age kids, she still finds time to run, swim, ski, and occasionally read through an entire book in a month.

Jen Rude (she/her)

Pastor Jen Rude (she/her/hers) finds joy and meaning in serving as the University Pastor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She enjoys accompanying students, faculty, and staff in learning and discovery, engaging big enough questions, and imagining a different way to live that is more rooted in compassion, justice, meaning and purpose. In an attempt to not try to do all the things, but to do the right things, Jen is practicing paying attention to discern what the Spirit is already up to and seeking to join that creative energy. Before coming to PLU Jen served as the program director for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a national support and advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ pastors and seminarians, and as an Outreach Minister with The Night Ministry in Chicago, working with street based young adults. In 2007, Jen was extraordinarily ordained at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Chicago and served there as Associate Pastor. After policy change at the national level removed barriers for partnered LGBTQ clergy, Jen was received onto the ELCA roster in 2011. Jen received her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and her B.A. from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. Jen enjoys hiking, cooking, brewing kombucha, the Enneagram, reading about minimalism/simple living, running, tending to her composting worms and exploring Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest with her spouse Deb Derylak.

Kim Gonia (she/her)

A practitioner of the scenic route, my life has been enriched by serving with the global church in Madagascar, as deacon for pastoral care in a congregation, as support staff at the RMS Office of the Bishop, parenting three now adult children, completing an MA at Iliff which led to an MDiv at LSTC, serving in three Lutheran and one Episcopal congregation since my ordination as pastor in 2011, and my new venture, Finding a Way Coaching.

I am currently pastor at Risen Lord Lutheran Church located in the foothills west of Denver in Conifer, Colorado. Risen Lord is a vibrant, multi-generational community of faith committed to being church, serving community, togetherness, and generosity. My call at Risen Lord is part-time. I am also lead trainer for Excellence in Leadership, a two year learning experience focused on building courageous, resilient, and faithful leaders for the church.

Running, walking with my spouse, making good food, reading voraciously, and occasionally knitting, all keep me sane.

Linda Boston

Pastor Boston has a demonstrated passion for ministry inside and outside the walls of the church and the halls of academia. A sacred phrase Pastor Boston keeps before her every day for her work in ministry; “Believe God’s Word for with God all things are possible”. She is the mother of two adult daughters, and the grandmother of five grandchildren. She is currently semi-retired serving Lutheran Church of the Master in Sacramento. Her former pastoral calls included congregations in Oakland, Ca, Jackson, Mississippi, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Michigan. She is an alumnus of: San Francisco City College where she earned an AA Degree in Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University where she majored in Philosophy and Religion. She received her Master of Divinity Degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. She earned her Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, with the program focus on Church Leadership in a Post Modern Era. Pastor Boston also studied at the historic Interdenominational Theological Consortium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maria Paiva

Rev. Maria Paiva serves as pastor at Saint John Lutheran Church, Gardena, since August 2016, a multicultural congregation in the Los Angeles area. She was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to this country almost 40 years ago. Her ministry has been developing and accompanying Latino ministries in Regions 1 and 2 in the ELCA but mainly at the Southwest California Synod. Her passion is to work for peace and justice for all. Maria graduated from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley and was ordained in May 2021. She is also an ELCA Coach and is working towards her certification with the International Coach Federation. Maria is a widow and has three adult children and three granddaughters.

La Pastora María Paiva sirve en la Iglesia Luterana San Juan, Gardena, desde Agosto del 2016, una congregación multicultural en el área de Los Ángeles. Ella nació en Lima, Perú e inmigro a este país casi 40 años atrás. Su ministerio ha sido de desarrollar y acompañar a ministerios latinos en las Regiones 1 y 2 en la ELCA pero mayormente en el Sínodo del Suroeste de California. Su pasión es trabajar por la paz y justicia para todos. María se graduó del Seminario Teológico Luterano del Pacifico y fue ordenada en Mayo 2021. Ella también es una Coach de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América y esta trabajando para la certificación con la Federación Internacional de Coaches. María es viuda y tiene tres hijos adultos y tres nietas.

Matt Anderson (he/him)

Matthew Anderson has served as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Victorville, CA since 2013. A self-professed “Bible nerd,” a passion for the scriptures is what first drew him into ministry, and he still loves witnessing moments when people discover new dimensions of the love of God through the Bible. Pastor Matt is also a singer and songwriter, and before ordination he had the opportunity to play in a wide variety of venues, from bars and clubs in Hollywood to leading worship at churches, camps, and conferences. These days he spends most of his non-working hours with his wife Becky and their two children, Ellie (8) and Luke (5). Becky and Matt are both 2004 graduates of California Lutheran University. Though he grew up outside Milwaukee, Matt was born in northern Illinois and claims Chicago as his true hometown when it comes to sports fandom – especially his beloved 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

Meggan Manlove

Meggan Manlove grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota and spent many summer days paddling canoes in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota. She graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead and worked at Camp Christikon in Montana during the summers. Meggan spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Syracuse, NY and then earned her M.Div. from the Univ. of Chicago Divinity School. She served a parish in rural Western Iowa for six years and moved to Nampa, Idaho in 2010 to serve as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. Meggan loves local ministry collaborations and cares deeply about outdoor ministries. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Idaho, deepening friendships, reading fiction, and watching good movies.

Nancy Switzler (she/her)

Rev. Nancy Switzler is a second career pastor who in her much younger years did not want to have anything to do with Christianity. She likes to say the God has a wonderful sense of humor in that she is serving as the pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and Preschool in Oxnard. She learned the hard way that it’s easy to allow ministry to get in the way of good self-care during the first years of ministry. She then took up running and has discovered the benefits of taking time for herself…and she see this as essential holistic ministry. Nancy has now run multiple marathons (including the famed Boston Marathon) and coaches others to fitness. She is also trained as a ministry and life coach through Vibrant Faith. She and her husband recently celebrated 33 years married. They have two adult children and two dogs.

Nate Sutton (he/him)

Nate Sutton (he/him/his) has served as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in downtown Puyallup, Washington, since 2015. He graduated from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and was ordained in Augustana Chapel in 2013, the culmination of a winding journey to ministry leadership. His sense of call is rooted in a love for God’s reign of mercy and justice, embodied in part in congregational gathering around the word and sacraments, and expressed in part in the congregation’s response to God’s call to follow the crucified and risen Christ back out into the world for the sake of love. His areas of greatest interest include theology with an emphasis on theology of the cross, ministry leadership, worship and spiritual formation, ecclesiology, language and other arts, political economy, and history with an emphasis on the history of racism and the movement for racial justice. Prior to seminary, he taught sixth grade English and history in South Los Angeles and traveled with a children’s theatre troupe in North and South Dakota and Minnesota. He shares his life with Bethany, a mental healthcare provider, and together they raise two children, ages 7 and 3.

Regina Q. Banks

Regina Q. Banks serves as the Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy California. She is a proud alumna of Valparaiso University School of Law and is based in Sacramento California. In her spare time she works on several social justice issues including housing security and ending the corrosive influence of money in politics. Her lapdog Ender also brings her great joy.

Sandra Rudd

Born and raised in Alaska I feel deeply the interconnectedness of all of God’s creation. Becoming a pastor was never my goal, but when God call’s it is usually easier to say “yes” than “no”. This is my third career. Previously I work in television and video production, and then in bookstores. What gets me excited about ministry is the opportunity to explore with people their spirituality and their religion. I enjoy learning new things together about God our creator, redeemer, sustainer and inspiration. I also enjoy taking walks, reading, and making and enjoying art. I especially enjoy photography.

Valerie Carlson (she/her/they)

This is Valerie (she/her/they). She is a pastor, mama, runner, mess. She is married to her co-facilitator, Daniel Carlson and loves him a lot. If she weren’t married to him she would have all the shelter dogs and cats in a 100 mile radius. She is clearly heart-centered and not head-centered in that way and that’s ok with her. She serves as the solo pastor at American Lutheran Church in Grand Junction, CO. ALC is her third call, the first outside of CA, and she misses the ocean every single day but loves the fierce commitment to following Jesus she has found in the people gathered in Christ’s name in the shadow of these Rocky Mountains. 9 years into ordained ministry, she chooses to no longer be vague or quiet about injustice to keep the peace and she regrets not having made this choice earlier.