Starting Well: Reflecting on the Orlando Fellows' Inaugural Year

Any time a new initiative is started there can be confusion as to how it fits in with the whole, especially if the initiative is multi-faceted, and The Collaborative is no exception. While our branding, communication efforts, and public events have been helpful, understanding each aspect can still be a bit fuzzy, particularly in these early years and given the large constituency that is First Presbyterian Church Orlando. This week’s blog is designed to provide some clarity with regards to The Heart of the City Fellows Program. We were featured in this blog that was written by the The Fellows Institute which is the governing entity for Fellows programs nationwide.


Starting Well: Reflecting on the Orlando Fellows' Inaugural Year

by Annie Monson

Kick-starting a Fellows program is an exciting and worthwhile challenge.  Once the idea is in place, laying a strong foundation is essential. This includes garnering support from your church, finding a director, planning the curriculum, attending a Come and See retreat with other directors, collaborating with program leaders, recruiting soon-to-be college graduates, and finding host families and employers for each fellow.  If you’ve started a Fellows program, you know that there is certainly even more to add to this list. Still, one thing is certain: starting a Fellows program is a worthwhile endeavor indeed.

That’s the story of the Orlando Heart of the City Fellows Program

Orlando began its first program year in the fall of 2017 at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.  The program is led by Bret Allen, the Minister of Family Life at the church. First Presbyterian Church of Orlando was uniquely positioned to host a Fellows program.  The church had already established a well-resourced ministry called The Collaborative, which exists to equip the church with a biblical understanding and approach to work and vocation.

The Collaborative seeks to “reframe, restore, and redeem an understanding of what happens at the intersection of faith and work.” With this ministry and mission already a strong force shaping First Presbyterian’s character, the Fellows program has been a fitting addition.

Further, the program was able to secure the support of a foundation called Heart of the City, which provides discounted tuition to a number of the Fellows.

God’s Hand At Work

Receiving church support and recruiting a robust class of twelve fellows were vital factors leading to the start of the program, but, as Bret said, the most important prerequisite was that it was the Lord’s doing.


HOW YOU CAN HELP: For Fall of 2019 The Heart of the City Fellows needs your help in securing jobs, providing housing, etc. If you are interested, please reach out to Bret Allen at

THANK YOU: To all who have provided so generously for our Fellows last year and this year’s current program. We could not do it without you—THANK YOU!

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