Thank you for our time together at clergy conference. It was a blessing to be with you, and I’m especially grateful for the ways you engaged with the Rev. Dr. Ruthanna Hooke in her sessions, and with me as we discussed matters of importance to the ministry we share.
As promised, here are some of the materials we shared and an invitation to participate in on-going endeavors, all in the spirit of our continuous improvement as leaders.
Ruthanna preached at our opening worship and has graciously shared her text with us.
In the first session, I introduced you to the work of acting coach Patsy Rodenburg, and in particular, her views on the importance of presence when standing before others. We watched a brief video, The Second Circle, in which Rodenberg describes three circles of energy, and then discussed how others experience our presiding and preaching depending on which circle we’re in.
During our evening conversation on Tuesday, I mentioned my yearly practice of attending a local live simulcast of the Global Leadership Conference. If you and any from your congregation would like to join me, the conference is an affordable, accessible engagement with some of the most thoughtful, creative leaders from multiple disciplines. More information about attending the summit as part of the diocesan group is available here.
I also mentioned that on my sabbatical next year, I plan to spend some time in the non-Episcopalian churches that are thriving within our diocese. If there is a particular church near you that you’d like me to study, please let me know as I will be forming my list between now and next March.
On Wednesday morning, we spent time discussing the planning of meaningful, engaging worship. Last year’s General Convention authorized the use of experimental liturgies for the principal service with the bishop’s approval. I told those present that I have no problem with you experimenting with liturgical styles, provided you remain true to our core doctrine of faith, tell me what you’re doing, and commit to an evaluation process, so we might learn from your experiences.
We also talked about the value of advanced planning for preaching, a discipline I have long wanted to adopt. The Rev. Sue von Rautenkranz shared with us a planning calendar Episcopal Church educator Sharon Pearson created that we can use if we want to think ahead for next year.
The Rev. Cara Spaccarelli and I decided we would spend a few days working together on a year-long preaching schedule this summer. All are welcome to join us. We’re meeting first on Thursday June 29th, from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then we’ll spend a few weeks on our own thinking about resources and themes to further develop and meet again for two days, July 12 and 13, from 10:00-3:00 p.m. For now, we’ll plan on meeting at Church House. Please let Mitchell Sams know if you are interested in participating on June 29, July 12 and 13, or both.
Cara also invites all clergy and their spouses to a dinner at her home on Saturday June, 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. so clergy spouses can get to know one another. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.
Finally, we shared thoughts on various programs to encourage deeper faith among our people and create points of entry for those exploring the Christian faith. For many, the Alpha Course is a helpful tool. Dean Randy Hollerith and I will be working over the summer to craft presentations for use at the Cathedral and our congregations. Other resources in discipleship include Sparkhouse, Forward Movement’s Transforming Questions, and a new series from Pastor Adam Hamilton (a United Methodist pastor and author) Creed: What Christians Believe and Why and more.
Our goal as your diocesan team is to create a strong library of useful tools and serve as a clearinghouse of materials, so that you and your leaders can find meaningful resources. Together, we can deepen our culture of spiritual growth and create entry points for those new or returning to Christian faith.
One final thought on resources having to do with money. In the Episcopal Church, most of our work with financial stewardship focuses on helping our people learn to give and to live generously, but we spend almost no time on helping our members live with money and manage money well.
So we are searching for good resources and ways to facilitate money conversations not rooted in church budgeting, but on home budgeting. All Saints’ Church in Chevy Chase offered such a class this past year that was well received, and I know that St. John’s Lafayette Square has held budgeting sessions for their young adults. The Strategic Financial Resources Commission would love to know if you’ve done work in this important area, so that we can learn from one another. Email me with your experiences and resources that you’ve found helpful.
One resource recommended by many is the Financial Peace University. I will be taking the course this summer online for myself, so that I can learn more about it (and consider again my own relationship to money). Two churches in Central Montgomery County, Christ Church in Kensington and Church of the Transfiguration, will be offering the course this summer. We will evaluate the course afterwards and let you know the results.
It was a full conference! We are blessed by the gift of one another. Again thank you for our time together, and for the privilege of serving as your bishop.