ACE^2: Academy of Clergy Excellence

Introducing ACE2: The Academy of Clergy Excellence

ACEis a two year self-selected peer group for clergy to bond together, learn together and dream together. Groups will design a custom plan to refresh self, church and community through sharing best practices, gaining new tools and exploring adaptive adventures for making new disciples. We invite participants to be part of a modern pilgrimage in order to experience the holy in themselves, their churches and community.


  • Orientation retreat- September 17-19, 2018
  • Year 1 plan due- October 2018
  • $500 participant fee for year 1 due- January 2019
  • Present at one information session- August 12-15, 2019
  • Mid-point retreat- October 28, 2019- Oak Grove UMC 
  • Year 2 plan due- January 2020
  • $500 participant fee for year 2 due- January 2020
  • Funding ends December 31, 2020

ACE2 Challenges Clergy

to Bond, Learn, and Dream

"Bond, learn, and dream" was the mandate given to the participants of North Georgia’s Academy of Clergy Excellence, otherwise known as ACE2. Thirteen groups, representing more than 80 clergy in the North Georgia Conference, will rally for two years around an essential question as the launch pad for their learning adventures. After an intensive orientation and planning retreat at Callaway Gardens in September 2018, ACE2 groups are embarking on their learning adventures near and far.



ACE2 Launches Clergy Peer Groups

This summer ACE2 rallied more than 90 clergy in the North Georgia Annual Conference into 13 peer learning groups. When asked why this program generated such enthusiasm, participants said they were looking for: connection, lifelong learning, adventure, renewal, and a desire for God to do a new thing in me and my church.



Border Walls and Bridges: How do we prepare the table to be a place of welcome for everyone in order to have crucial conversations?
Ash McEuen
Joel Rodriguez
Juan Quintanilla
Steve Alred
Martha Dye

Care Bears: How does caring for self, others and the world lead to transformation?
Brent Huckaby
Meg Morrison
Jennifer Hansen
Lindsay Geist
Andy Woodworth
Brian Funderburke

Conversations Along the Journey: How do we have civil conversations in a divided world?
Beth Shugart
Matt Murphy
Lori Osborn
Zack Martin
Byron Thomas
Max Vincent

Intellectually Curious, Socially Conscious & Holy: How do we embrace diversity and welcome the other into our midst?
Tonya Lawrence
Brian Tillman
Dana Everhart
Nora Colmenares
Rodrigo Cruz
Vance Ross
Joseph McBrayer

Intentional Pilgrims: How do we repurpose the ancient practice of spiritual disciplines in order to recognize the value in what is old and seasoned in our spiritual lives while enduring practices with new approaches?
Kathie Statsko
Deborah Holloway
Liza Marler
Mark LaRocca Pitts
Cindy Conner
Dan Dixon

Job's Friends: How do we share with other clergy the value of covenantal peer groups over the course of ministry?
Robert Brown
Terry Walton
Rob Lanford Jr.
Jody Alderman
Chuck Hodges
Bob Winstead

Parts Unknown: How do we make the unknown known to our churches as we seek to discover and participate in what the church may look like in the next 25 years?
Julie Schendel
Tara Paul
Shannon Karafanda
Heather Jallad
Matt Nelson
Owen Skinner
Eric Mays
Ted Rollins

Prayer and Place: How does one become a person of prayer, instead of a person who prays?
Jordan Thrasher
Thomas Martin
Allen Johnson
Josh Amerson
Katy Hinman
Emily Bagwell
Blair Setnor

Purer Space: How do we create purer spaces in our lives together through authentic and trusting relationships?
Dane Wagner
Mac Enfinger
Michele May
Debbie Carlton
Eddie Bradford

Rest and Renewal: How can I pour myself out, knowing I will be refilled?
Leonard Akers
James Gwin
Travia Speer
Shelia Preacher
Chris Mullis

Serenity Sisters: How do we as female pastors integrate mind, body, spirit, and environment for the purpose of personal renewal and deepen our relationship with God and others?
Elaine Crawford
Joyce Banks
Heather Flaherty
Elizabeth Ackerman
Nancy Long
Candy Thacker

Shema: Listen & Obey: How do we listen to self, God and others?
Dana Ezell
Leslie Watkins
Melissa Sexton
Cassie Rapko
Allyson Lawrence
Kimberly Evans
Katie Mattox

Walking Women of the World: How do we strengthen our mind, body and spirit, recognizing the spirituality of our physical selves and walking into the authentic individuals God created us to be?
Millie Kim
Pam McCurdy
Anika Jones
Nancy Johnson
Cyndi McDonald
Karen Lyons
Terri Lemons



Please contact the Conference ACE2 Coordinator
Rev. Leigh Martin

Interested in ACE2

Register to attend one of the four information sessions to learn more about ACE2. Each session will be held from 12:00-3:00, lunch included. 

August 12 Trinity at the Well in Cartersville

August 13 Gainesville First UMC

August 14 Madison First UMC

August 15 Jonesboro First UMC


Who's eligible to participate?

  • Any combination of the following: 
    • Full-time full connection elders
    • Full-time full connection deacons
    • Full-time local pastors who have completed Course of Study
    • Extension ministers in the above categories

What was the application process?

  • Identify a group of 6-8 North Georgia United Methodist clergy to learn and grow with over a two year period.
  • Develop a general idea of what you would like to learn in your time together.
  • Submit your general application by September 20, 2019.
  • Approved applicants will be notified by October 4, 2019.
  • Once approved, your group will participate in a two-day orientation retreat at Callaway Gardens November 4-6, 2019. At the retreat your group will meet with a coach to refine your group plan.
  • Groups will submit their continuing education plan no later than January 31, 2020.
  • Groups will be required to attend a mid-point retreat.

Why does my group have to be 6-8?

  • From experience, a group of 6-8 is an ideal size. It is small enough to feel like an intimate group and also practical enough to travel together. It is large enough to have variety and an engaging dynamic.

What if I don't have a group or if there are not enough people in my group? 

  • It is strongly encouraged that clergy self-select; however, for those without a group ACE2 will help facilitate group formation by making available a list of interested clergy on an ACE2 match-up web page. Participants must commit to a group of 6-8 clergy in order to participate.
  • Groups that fall short of the 6-8 group requirement are still encouraged to recruit for members on the ACE2 match up web page.  Groups who do not meet the minimum required number of participants will not be approved.
  • ACE2 will NOT assign people to groups. Groups must self-select.

What am I supposed to study?

  • Your group of 6-8 clergy will determine what continuing education you need in order to refresh your self, church and community. In order to apply, your group needs to have a general idea of what you would like to learn together. A detailed plan is not required to apply. Groups are encouraged to dream and explore learning experiences beyond church. 
  • ACE2 funds are limited to custom learning experiences designed by peer groups. Prepackaged continuing education events are discouraged. Groups are encouraged to design their own unique continuing education experience. While Pastor’s School and prepackaged conferences are beneficial, they will not be funded by ACE2.

What does it cost to participate? 

  • Approved ACE2 participants are expected to commit $500 from their continuing education budget provided by their appointment during the two years of participation. 

How does funding work?

  • ACE2 will allocate funding for groups ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 per participant per year. Groups that demonstrate diversity such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, life stage, appointment context, as well as, theological diversity are encouraged. Funding levels for each group will be communicated before the orientation retreat.