NBA XPLOR Young Adult Residency Program

NBA supports a prophetic movement of young adults exploring the connection between a life of faith and the work of justice.

In 2014, we launched NBA XPLOR, a ten-month residency year for young adults ages 21-30  to live in a new community, learn about their faith, and make decisions about how they will construct meaningful, impactful lives.

Through NBA XPLOR, we partner young adults with Disciples congregations, regional and general ministries, and wider communities—building impactful learning contexts, broad communities of service, and transformational conversations and relationships. After considerable discernment, the National Benevolent Association (NBA) has made the difficult decision to place NBA XPLOR on hiatus for the 2020-21 program year. Read the full announcement here

While on hiatus from residential programming in 2020-21, NBA XPLOR is developing new models for connecting with and supporting diverse communities of young adults. XPLOR is researching and developing a semi-virtual intentional community model which we hope to launch in 2021. Stay tuned!

Four Cornerstones of NBA XPLOR

Community Engagement and Justice Work

Have you been wondering how to make a greater impact for good? 
Connect the life of faith to the work of justice in your day-to-day life.

Spiritual Deepening and Vocational Discernment

What is it that God and your heart are calling you to do? 
Say yes to new ways of living into God’s dreams for your life.

Leadership Development

What do you need to know to do what you need to do? 
Claim and hone your strengths for personal, spiritual, and professional leadership.

Simple Living in Intentional Community

How do I learn to live with what I need, not with all that I want? 
How does living in community shape my answers and my practice?
Experience sharing resources and making decisions in a household community of faith.

NBA XPLOR is fully committed to a solid foundation of anti-racism and anti-oppression work. The XPLOR Cornerstones help Residents and host teams to engage practices of full inclusion and to celebrate diversity.

NBA XPLOR is deeply rooted in the mission of the National Benevolent AssociationFollowing God’s call, the National Benevolent Association exists to inspire and connect the people and ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), to accompany one another in the creation of communities of compassion and care, and to advocate for the well-being of humanity. We also claim our mission through a deep connection to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) identity statement: We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.


Meet the NBA XPLOR Team

Rev. Rae Karim


Virzola Law

Rev. Virzola Law

NBA XPLOR Mission Specialist



We are strengthening our XPLOR Alumni Network, comprising more than 100 former Residents who continue to pursue lives of care and service through work in health and social service fields and through involvement with their faith tradition and community. One focus of our alumni work is to nurture a culture of equity and mutual support among group members, and we do this through book groups, webinars, community conversations, and skills-sharing. XPLOR Alumni who would like to be involved are encouraged to contact Evan Stanfill at EStanfill@NBAcares.org.


XPLOR Resident Vlogs

Learn about XPLOR from the voices of the Residents themselves! Watch this playlist of Resident vlogs from a recent cohort. You can even check out more Resident videos on the NBAcares YouTube Channel.

Get to Know the XPLOR Residents

XPLOR Residents 2019-20

Meet the Residents

XPLOR Residents 2018-19

Meet the Residents

XPLOR Residents 2017-18

Meet the Residents

XPLOR Residents 2016-17

Meet the Residents

XPLOR Residents 2015-16

Meet the Residents

XPLOR Residents 2014-15

Meet the Residents

Stories from Our Residents

Staying Connected: Kansas Christian Home Uses Technology to Help Older Adults Socialize During Pandemic

For 60 years, Kansas Christian Home has provided social and health services to meet the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of seniors. They continue to do this by using new technologies like the iN2L.

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Celebrating Our Stories of Cultural Resilience: Sharing Diverse Mental Health Stories

Joselyn Spence, NBA Director of Mental Health & Wellness has curated a group of activists, therapists, and pastors to share their stories.

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NBA Trustees Meet Virtually to Deepen Equity Work, Celebrate Outgoing Trustees

In June, NBA Trustees met virtually to deepen their equity work with the organization, review program updates, and celebrate outgoing trustees.

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Juliette Fowler’s Ebby House Provides a Place for Young Women to Heal and Gain Independence

NBA’s Mission & Ministry grants support young women like Amy who was a homeless teen taken in by Juliette Fowler’s Ebby House and has blossomed ever since.

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NBA Announces Spring 2022 Mission & Ministry Grants

We are pleased to announce our Spring 2022 Mission & Ministry Grantees! Our grant program granted a total of $203,000 to 28 Disciples projects working with older adults, children, and youth.

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NBA’s Mental Health Work Heads to Kentucky

Chaplains in Kentucky gather with the Director of Mental Health and Wellness Joselyn Spence.

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Mission & Ministry Grants Help Young Adults Gain Life Skills

Mission & Ministry Grants help support young adults like Tonya, who earned her driver’s license and secured a scholarship for college with support from NBA grantee Child Saving Institute and their Independent Living Skills program.

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Older Adult Ministries of Mid-America Presents in the General Assembly Virtual Exhibit Hall

The Older Adult Ministries of Mid-America used their Mission & Ministry Grant to intentionally expand their work from advocacy to action.

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Mission & Ministry Grants Provide Support for Spiritual Deepening and Emotional Care

Templo Cristiano Central has supported clergy interested in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) since 2019. Receiving a Mission & Ministry Grant last year, allowed their CPE program to partner with a local senior housing facility in impactful ways.

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California Church Brings Books, Food and Teaches Life Skills to Foster Children

The BLEND Church Family knew the mental toll the pandemic was having on the children in their community, so they used their Mission & Ministry Grant to provide some levity and life skills.

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Supporting Sustainability: Invested Faith Seeds $10,000 into NBA Social Entrepreneurs

In 2021, we launched our first Social Entrepreneur Cohort with the goal to intentionally and sustainably support up-and-coming social enterprises. Since then, cohort members have gone on to launch and grow their organizations and receive funding from other CC(DOC) partners, including Invested Faith.

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Virtual Reality Headsets Help Neurodiverse Youth Soar

Research suggests that individuals with autism spectrum disorder can benefit from experiences offered through virtual reality headsets like the Oculus. Learn how Woodhaven used its Mission & Ministry grant to impact the lives of its students.

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A Career of Service and Care: Gary Zimmerman’s 34 years at NBA

In 1987 Gary Zimmerman joined the NBA during a huge turning point for the organization. He worked his way up to CFO and after 34 years, Gary retired at the end of January.

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NBA Welcomes New Chief Financial Officer Amy Johns

The NBA is happy to welcome Amy Johns, our new Chief Financial Officer. Johns started on January 1, 2022. We asked Amy a few questions to learn more about her.

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Peer Learning & Wellness Groups Create a Place to Connect, Be Seen and Heard

NBA is in the process of launching several Peer Learning & Wellness Groups that center voices of color. Meet the conveners leading the charge.

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Meet the 2022 Social Entrepreneurship Cohort

Meet the 10 new social entrepreneurs who will spend 2022 growing their new nonprofits as part of NBA’s Social Entrepreneurship Cohort!

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A Year In Review: The Inaugural Social Entrepreneurship Cohort on a Year of Growth

After spending a year working with NBA's Social Entrepreneurship team, the 2021 SENT Cohort reflects on its impact.

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NBA Virtual Board Meeting Focuses on Community Engagement and Equity

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12 Days of Wellness—Mental Health Tips for the Holiday Season from NBA Cares

INTRODUCING: The 12 Days of Wellness! Mental health and wellness tips for the holiday season.

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NBA Announces Fall 2021 Mission & Ministry Grantees

We are excited to announce our Fall 2021 Mission & Ministry Grantees! This program granted a total of $185,500 to 35 Disciples projects working with older adults, children, and youth.

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A Mile in Our Shoes: NBA Staff Reflects on Footwear as a Reflection of Daily Life

Shoes don’t just make an outfit, they can say a lot about a person, where they’ve come from or where they’re headed.

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Voices of NBA: Black Women in Leadership

We sat down with Dr. Norma Ellington Twitty and Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick for a dynamic conversation about NBA’s history, equity and inclusion, leadership, and the importance of NBA both inside and outside the walls of the church.

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It Takes Everyone: Sharing the Load of Justice Work

NBA’s new Justice Coordinator, Rev. Alexis Vaughan, reflects on Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and the need to share the load of social justice work.

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The Many Hurdles of Employment After Incarceration

Upcoming webinar guest Savvy Shabazz shares his experience with the prison system in Kentucky and his struggles of trying to find employment after returning home.

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Reflections on the Impact of NBA’s Executive Leaders Peer Learning and Wellness Group

Read about the impact of NBA’s Executive Leaders Peer Learning & Wellness Group.

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NBA Adds New Staff Members to Aid in Mental Health, Justice, and Development Work

Over the last few months, we’ve added several new faces to our team. Get to know them!

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Mental Health, Wellness, and My Faith Journey

“Focusing on my wellness allows me to embody commandments like Sabbath and prioritize my joy and my rest,” shares Joselyn Spence, NBA’s Director of Mental Health & Wellness. Read about how her journey to deepen her faith and care for her mental health were intertwined.

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NBA CFO and VP of Administration Gary Zimmerman to Retire After 34 Years of Service

After 30 years with us as the CFO and VP of Administration Gary Zimmerman will be retiring at the end of January 2022.

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Coping with Trauma in the Wake of the 9/11 Anniversary

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Here are ways to cope with trauma from these past events.

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Focusing on the Future: An Update on NBA XPLOR

NBA XPLOR update! The traditional residential model will stay on hiatus for 2021 with NBA’s team putting energy towards three exciting new ventures.

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Additional Details About NBA XPLOR