Realizing that many pastors leave their churches feeling alienated, Virginia pastor Charles A. Wickman has found his calling in ministry to ministers.

Wickman says that when pastors are forced out or resign under fire, they "feel lonely and isolated" with few resources to sort out what went wrong.

Wickman's newly launched Pastor-in-Residence program provides what he calls Refuge Nets—local groups of seven to ten churches each willing to hire an "exited" pastor. For six months to a year, the church provides accountability, mentorship, and ministry opportunities.

The first Refuge Net, composed of 10 churches in Tidewater, Virginia, started in March. Programs in Chicago, Phoenix, and Colorado Springs are under development. Wickman, 64, hopes to have 10 Refuge Nets in place by the end of 1998.

"Some of these guys are out for ethical or moral reasons, but most just had conflicts at their churches," says Wickman, pastor emeritus of Kempsville Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach. According to a nationwide study last year by YOUR CHURCH magazine, 23 percent of pastors surveyed said they had been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.

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