By Jessica Griggs for Mennonite Church USA
ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) —Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) has formalized a relationship with the Kineo Center, a newly developed ecumenical Christian retreat center in Puerto Rico, to help MC USA pastors experiencing burnout.
The Kineo Center, which opened in 2021, was founded by Dan White Jr. and Tonya White, with the aim of providing renewal to church leaders who love the church but need help healing from ministry fatigue. “Pastors are beat up from leading through issues of race, pandemic protocols and contentious elections, among other things. This has taken a massive toll on the heart of these leaders. Kineo has brought together a gifted team of clinical therapists, compassionate coaches and veteran shepherds to meet this unprecedented moment,” said Dan White Jr.
Prior to learning about Kineo, Michael Danner, MC USA’s associate executive director for Church Vitality, had been exploring how MC USA could provide a similar service to its ministerial leaders. At the same time, the Whites were looking throughout the United States for organizations that shared their values and were willing to partner with Kineo.
Dan White Jr. said, “We observed that MC USA cares about the emotional, spiritual and relational vibrancy of their leaders. That shared value brings us together to do something quite important — care for weary and wounded leaders. MC USA understands the crisis of our cultural moment and how it is squeezing the soul of leaders. We really wanted to address that problem arm-in-arm with our peace church brothers and sisters.”
Upon learning about the Whites’ vision for Kineo, MC USA leadership agreed to become a founding partner. MC USA, along with five other founding partners — V3 Movement, Propel Women, Thresholds, Underground Network and Converge MidAtlantic — provide financial resources and participants for Kineo’s programs. MC USA’s initial contribution to the Kineo Center was provided in part by the Schowalter Foundation. MC USA has committed to an initial partnership term of three years, with the option to continue longer.
Kineo’s main focus is a program called “Renewal for Weary & Wounded Leaders.” In this program, ministry leaders participate in a 24-week, online cohort with five to seven other church leaders. Each cohort is led by a trained coach, who guides the cohort through a curriculum designed by therapists and experienced pastors. Each participant takes a psychological assessment to gauge six different levels of internal pain: compassion fatigue, stress, depression, anger issues, burnout and loneliness. Participants then meet one-on-one with their cohort coach to discuss their assessment results and pain-points in ministry. For the final week, participants fly to Naguabo, Puerto Rico, to spend four days and three nights at the Kineo Retreat Center, which allows cohort members to meet one another face-to-face and worship together, while also leaving time for rest and relaxation at Kineo Center’s five-acre resort. With MC USA’s 30% discount, the 24-week cohort — including the stay at the retreat center — costs $1,775, plus the price of travel to and from Puerto Rico.
In order to enroll in the cohort, the participant must be actively involved in ministry or transitioning from one ministry to the next.
Danner said, “This is a place where burnt-out pastors can go and reflect. In this program, they will do the deeper work that is needed to address what they have experienced, so that they can continue in their call.” He said that, sometimes, it might be healthiest for the pastor to move on to a new ministry, and, if that is the best choice, this program can help them move on in a healthy way. “We want them to experience healing and receive insight into their makeup and how they should engage in ministry.”
The Kineo Center also offers personal retreat options for groups and individuals, with the option to add on guided sessions in “Pain & Possibilities” or “Mutual Marriage.” These vacation-style retreats can be booked by anyone, but those involved in ministry will receive a discount for their stay, and those participating in at least a two-week, sabbatical-length retreats receive an additional discount.
Because MC USA is a founding partner, MC USA ministry leaders will receive a special 30% discount on all of Kineo’s offerings — 24-week cohorts, personal retreats and group retreats.
The first MC USA Kineo cohort begins in March. Learn more and sign up here.
The Kineo Center is a place and process for emotional, spiritual and vocational renewal for faith-based and social-good leaders. Opened in September of 2020, they have already hosted 200+ leaders for the pointed work of addressing their weariness and woundedness. They are located at a tranquil mini-resort between the Caribbean Sea and mountains.
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 530 congregations and 62,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 58 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org