Through three three-day retreats (see 2018 schedule here), augmented by videoconferencing, site visits and small group work in between, participants move through three stages — discern, design and disciple — gaining clarity about themselves and their venture, prototyping and testing their concept, and building a team. Fellows draw upon the experience of mentors and peers while identifying and maximizing the resources of their communities. At the program's end, fellows are eligible for seed funding. They also pitch their ventures to social impact investors.
The Adese faculty is made up of entrepreneurs, theologians and executive coaches as well as leaders skilled in the legal, financial and HR issues of startups. The faculty includes:
- Rev. Dr. Chris Davies, artist, theologian and coordinator of the UCC's office for Congregational Assessment, Support and Advancement (CASA)
- Rev. Dr. Patrick Duggan, pastor, economic and community development professional, and executive director of the UCC Church Building & Loan Fund (CB&LF)
The program is organized around three pillars: theology, practice and community.
Theology. The progressive church has much to say about the prophetic work of critique or speaking truth to power. Yet little is said about the creative dimension of prophetic faith — the building, organizing and enterprising toward a more just world. Outside the church and beyond its conventional critique of business is a growing movement that believes business can be a force for justice. Adese Fellows want to comprehend and catch up with this movement of the Spirit. So they engage in theological reflection, drawing upon a variety of materials, including scripture, tradition and history as well as narratives of people who enterprise on the margins.
Practice. Entrepreneurship begins with a different way of seeing: noticing possibility instead of just problems; paying attention to resources already present; recognizing what’s already moving in the direction we want to go. This perspective takes practice. It requires the cultivation of habits that change sight from the dominant way of seeing, which is a totalizing and dehumanizing worldview of deficits, scarcity and competition, into a vision of God’s economy, where there is plenty for all. Adese Fellows engage in spiritual practices, including meditation, discernment and testimony; they also learn organizational practices, including appreciative inquiry, asset mapping, and strength-based leadership and culture formation.
Community. The entrepreneurial journey is difficult – because it’s hard to see this alternative way and because one often travels without maps, mentors or institutional money. So the journey can be lonely, and depressing. Research says one out of three entrepreneurs suffers from depression. For this reason, entrepreneurs need community to remind them they are not alone. Adese Fellows recognize how vital community is to grounding them in the countercultural theology, calling them to practice, and holding them accountable. Community, then, is the program's mode of learning; it is also the model for whatever enterprise each participant pursues.
The Adese community endures after completion of the program. Fellows commit to support each other, and successive cohorts, through networking, mentoring and special events. They also take on the role of proclaimers and teachers of a countercultural way, using new and traditional media to witness to the church, call it to renewal, and share the good news of God's economy with all God's children.
Applications for the 2018 Adese cohort are closed.
For further information about the Adese Fellowship, contact the Rev. Dr. Chris Davies, CASA director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-736-3827, or the Rev. Dr. Patrick Duggan, CB&LF executive director, at email@example.com or 516-724-2099.