“At Western Theological Seminary, we’re not just given information about ministry, rather Western looks to form us for ministry. One of those avenues of formation is a summer placement in a ministry context. This summer I am working with the Sacred Sector of the Center for Public Justice, a program that equips faith-based non-profits in better fulfilling their mission in the world.” -Trey Tirpak, M.Div.

Student council president Trey Tirpak (M. Div.) is spending the summer learning and applying nonprofit best practices at the Reformed Church in America

Written by Meg Biallas Henry, Director of Communications at the Center for Public Justice

GRAND RAPIDS, MI. (JULY 18, 2019) — This month, Western Theological Seminarian Trey Tirpak joined the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) as a Fellow with the Sacred Sector Fellowship initiative. He is included in a cohort of 12 seminarians who have been selected for this initiative. The program kicked off with a five-day intensive training in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From there, he will spend the remaining nine weeks consulting with the Reformed Church in America. Tirpak will advise the church about the practices most conducive to fully living out their faith-based mission.

Sacred Sector Fellowship is an initiative of the Center for Public Justice, a Christian civic education and public policy organization. The week of training included seminars led by Sacred Sector Director and Acting CEO of CPJ Chelsea Langston Bombino, Sacred Sector Program Manager Virginia Creasy, Founder and Senior Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance Stanley Carlson-Thies, Gatherings of Hope Senior Program Officer Khary Bridgewater, Urban Church Leadership Center Director Julian Guzman, Standards for Excellence Institute Director Amy Coates Madsen and 2018 Sacred Sector Fellow and Public Justice Review Editor Kerwin Webb.

“I am eager to see what this year’s cohort will accomplish. Our Fellows are diverse in their experiences, goals and missions for the future,” said Bombino. “I am confident that this year’s cohort will be equipped to strengthen the faith-based nonprofit sector, and I am hopeful that our curriculum will help them further their vocational callings.”

Sacred Sector Fellowship equips current or recently-graduated seminarians with the skills and experience to lead within the faith-based nonprofit sector. The program provides emerging leaders with a holistic framework to integrate and thoroughly embody their sacred missions in every area of nonprofit governance. Fellows receive training in public policy, organizational best practices, and strategic positioning.

Trey (back middle) at the RCA’s Seminarian Seminar 2019 with his boss, Dr. Monica Schaap Pierce (middle row, second from right).

Tirpak said of his experience this summer, “I am honored that I have the opportunity to work with Dr. Monica Schaap Pierce, the Ecumenical Associate for the Reformed Church in America. I’m also profoundly grateful for the formative experiences I have weekly with Sacred Sector, which will help me imagine all that Christ’s church can be in our ever-changing North American world.”

A unique part of the Fellowship includes special resources from Standards for Excellence®, a national initiative that promotes ethical practices and accountability in the nonprofit sector. The Center for Public Justice, through Sacred Sector, is a replication partner of the Standards for Excellence® program. The Standards for Excellence code covers the following areas of nonprofit operations: mission, strategy and evaluation, leadership board, staff and volunteers, legal compliance and ethics, finance and operations, resource development, and public awareness, engagement and advocacy. CPJ launched the Sacred Sector initiative in February 2018, thanks to a grant from Templeton Religion Trust. Along with the fellows program, Sacred Sector also runs a six-month learning community for faith-based non profits.

Sacred Sector, an initiative of the Center for Public Justice, is a learning community for faith-based organizations and emerging leaders within the faith-based nonprofit sector that seek to integrate and fully embody their sacred missions in every area of organizational life.

The Center for Public Justice is an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to policy research and civic education. Working outside the familiar categories of right and left, conservative and liberal, we seek to help citizens and public officeholders respond to God’s call to do justice.

As stated, Sacred Sector was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton Religion Trust. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton Religion Trust.

Photo: 2019 Sacred Sector Fellowship cohort. Tirpak is back row, third from left. Back, left to right: Babasola Fateye, Philip Tabler, Trey Tirpak, Steffani Bates, Tricia Bosma, Nathaniel L. Carter, Jr., Thomas Schliep, Adam Ramirez, Lyonel LaGrone, Jr., Desiree McCray. Front, left to right: Mary Li Ma, Timothy Music.