Cultivating greenhouses and hot spots

Jan 17, 2014 | Pastoral Excellence Network



In collaboration with the Minneapolis Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Pastoral Excellence Network is pleased to announce, “Cultivating greenhouses and hot-spots for soul-full and resilient leadership” on February 27 and 28, 2014. This two-day event in Minneapolis, which is open to all clergy, will focus on the role and habits of clergy communities of practice.

Clergy have always been gathering in one way or another. There have always been official denominational gatherings, informal gatherings over lunch or coffee, lectionary study groups, and continuing education programs. Clergy work together in response to community concerns and social issues. These various efforts often orient new clergy and sustain clergy in their ministries.

We can imagine that sometimes these clergy gatherings serve as a refuge for clergy who have been, as the expression goes, “waiting to exhale.” At one time or another, we all need to talk about a situation with colleagues who understand what we’re going through.

Unburdening ourselves is essential, but never enough. We have capacities for something more.

Expanding our capacities

Clergy peer learning and accountability can constructively take our collegial connections to deeper levels of engagement that serve not just the individual pastor, but the profession of ministry and congregations as well. We call it developing clergy communities of practice. The Lilly Endowment’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence and Transition into Ministry initiatives have explored that deeper frontier. The book, So Much Better, documents these initiatives of clergy peer learning and support across a number of faith traditions.

The next wave

With the launch of the Pastoral Excellence Network (PEN) a year ago, the next wave of exploration and development of pastoral excellence initiatives is underway. PEN is collaborating with a variety of regional and national bodies to carry forward this important work so that existing programs can be strengthened and new initiatives can be launched. There is much expertise and experience to be shared. Each day we hear from clergy and from church organizations who know that something more wants to emerge.

One example occurs later this month. On January 28, 2014, the Pastoral Excellence Network staff and Ann Michel from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership are offering an event focused on “Clergy well-being for the long haul.” During this day-long retreat at Bon Secours near Baltimore, Maryland, we will introduce perspectives on well-being and communities of practice to clergy and denominational leaders in the Greater Washington, D.C., area.

Creating greenhouses and hot spots

The February 27-28 event in Minneapolis marks the reality that we are at a new juncture. As the landscape of religious life changes and the world’s challenges become more complex, we need to imagine new ways of leading and of sustaining ourselves as religious leaders for the work ahead. We need to cultivate soul-full practices that build our capacities for resilience and well-being—not just for ourselves, but for the church as a whole.

More than ever, we need the creative power of a "greenhouse" for reflecting upon our actual experiences, drawing upon our collective imaginations, and finding courage to risk new experiments. We need “hot spots” to connect to the deeper sources of spiritual renewal practice-based learning. These “greenhouses” and “hot spots” are what we are creating together in the Pastoral Excellence Network.

We hope you will consider joining us now or for another event announced in the future.

The image displayed in this news story is "greenhouse by allerleirau, on Flickr" and is used in accordance with Creative Commons licensing.

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