The Fourth Fellows Program is a leadership and discipleship program for recent college graduates with emphasis on the intersection of faith, work, and service. Fellows are selected and immersed in a 9-month experience that integrates professional work, graduate-level seminary study, discipleship, service, and time with a host family and other Fellows. The goal of the program is to cultivate a desire for wholeness in all aspects of a Christian’s life.
The Fourth Fellows program is a ministry of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD, located just 9 miles from the U.S. Capitol. Fellows are integrated into the church and cared for by its members – guided in this stage of life by program leaders and mentors from the church.
A Word from Pastor Todd Smedley
As a Fellow you’ll be living with a host family, a core part of the Fellows experience. These families demonstrate hospitality by welcoming fellows into their homes as participating members of the family. The families provide loving care and informal mentoring. Meanwhile, the fellows see the family’s faith in action during nine months of real life in a Christian home. Incredible bonds are often formed, and fellows grow by experiencing family dynamics that are different than their own.
Alongside weekly Bible studies, Fellows complete four graduate-level courses at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). Representative courses include a Biblical survey course, and Terms of Cultural Engagement. Several of Fourth’s pastors teach at RTS, and the RTS-DC President, Dr. Scott Redd, is a Teaching Elder at Fourth.
During the course of the year, fellows also benefit from a rich series of seminar discussions with speakers who are living out their faith in a variety of vocations. Fourth Presbyterian’s large congregation includes people who are active in different spheres of Washington’s worlds of law and politics, think tanks, ministry, business, biotechnology, families, agriculture, and many others.
Christians are not only called to follow Jesus as disciples – we are also commanded to make disciples (Matt 28:16-20). All fellows therefore serve weekly in Fourth’s Youth and Family Ministry. This is a significant opportunity to pour into the life of younger students and disciple them in the faith. Fellows will help in Sunday School classes, lead small groups, and connect with the with the leadership and families involved in this dynamic ministry. This is the primary place where fellows will serve within the church during their Fellows Year.
Each fellow is prayerfully and thoughtfully paired with a mentor who is a member of Fourth Presbyterian. Our mentors help fellows navigate these nine months, while offering perspective on seeking the Lord, finding a vocational fit, entering the next stage of adult life, and building meaningful community.
A key element of Christian living is humble service—giving our own gifts without expectation of repayment. This is done in order to love, strengthen, encourage, and dignify others. Fourth Pres is connected with a variety of dynamic service organizations in and around D.C. Fellows will serve together through one of these organizations. This service outside the church combines with the Youth and Family Ministry service inside the church to cultivate a godly rhythm of serving others.
As a Fourth Fellow you’ll be integrated with the church community in a variety of ways – with a host family, a community group and a Parish (multi-age groups based on geography), the larger Fourth church body, the city, and the nationwide Fellows network. Within all of this are your “fellow Fellows” with whom you journey and inevitably form a particularly strong community. Fellows gather weekly as a “family” for a shared meal and dinner discussion.
Fourth Fellows work three days a week in a part-time, paid work placement. This position helps you gain invaluable real-world work experience. The internship becomes the real-life laboratory where you learn how your faith informs your work.
As with any job your Fourth Fellows work placement is a mutual selection process between you and potential employers. Our committee has relationships with employers and we are always looking to add new work placement sponsors. We do our best to match you with a work placement that aligns to your area of study or career objectives.
Working just three days a week leaves two days for seminars and seminary courses that will deepen and mature your understanding of faith, vocation, work, and cultural engagement. You will grow in your understanding of your own unique gifts and strengths and begin to relate these to vocation. You will have a mentor and a network of leaders at Fourth Presbyterian who speak into your life during your Fellows Year and beyond. You also strengthen your peer network, and can tap into the global network of The Fellows Initiative (TFI) alumni.
Many members of Fourth Pres work in and influence the culture of Washington, D.C., and make Fourth a fascinating place to worship and build relationships.
As a fellow you will hear from influential Christian leaders and thinkers who seek to live out their faith in a comprehensive and meaningful way. Spending nine months working, learning, living and exploring in one of America’s political and cultural epicenters will provide an extraordinary opportunity for you to test and understand your faith, and to start well – with the right connections and the right perspectives.
If you are a prospective fellow, we hope you’ll come join us as you seek to learn what it means to start well in all spheres of your life.