2020 Vision Focuses on Courage & Renewal for Faith Formation Leaders

“2020 Vision”, was developed by staff and recently adopted by the Board of Directors.  This bold set of strategic objectives will be implemented by the year 2020.  We want to be sure we communicate our 2020 Vision to as many of you as possible, and invite you to consider where you and your congregation can engage in this important work.  Whether you are in a rural or metro setting, are a small church or large church, there is something here for you! You can view 2020 Vision HERE.  Today we share another in a series of articles highlighting this work. Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation, has information to share about Courage & Renewal for Faith Formation Leaders:

 

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.” 
~Parker Palmer
In a growing number of congregations both within the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ and across mainline protestant denominations, intentional ministries of Christian faith formation are increasingly led by part-time staff or lay volunteers.  Even among congregations with full-time staff or clergy leading these ministries, many are facing cut-backs in resourcing, program support, and staff development.  Many individuals serving in these vitally important ministry roles have limited access to collegial support networks, continuing education opportunities, and financial support for professional development and personal spiritual renewal.  As a result, congregational faith formation leaders often report feeling isolated, under-valued, and depleted.

As part of the 2020 Vision initiative, the Conference has developed the following strategic goal to support the ministry of congregational faith formation leaders:

During 2018, launch a 6-month leadership formation initiative for up to 20 faith formation leaders from both the Minnesota Conference and other conferences within the UCC that supports peer connection and learning, creates space for personal spiritual renewal, and strengthens the capacity for participants to nurture faith within the congregations they serve.

Thanks to generous funding from the Ashley Endowment, we are delighted to collaborate with the Center for Courage& Renewal, the group co-founded by Parker Palmer, to develop a new peer support and leadership formation initiative, Courage & Renewal for Faith Formation Leaders. For two decades, the Center for Courage & Renewal has helped create safe spaces for people to gather for reflection and meaningful conversations designed to support vocational exploration, building and maintaining trustworthy relationships, and finding alignment between one’s inner life and outer work in the world. Grounded in this work, Courage & Renewal for Faith Formation Leaders will offer an opportunity for congregational leaders to renew, reflect upon, and reconnect with the heart of their vocation.

Through two retreats and monthly peer learning circles, participants will be invited to:

  • Slow down and disconnect from the busy pace of ministry life so that they can hear the voice of God within and deepen their spiritual practice
  • Witness and be witnessed to by kindred peers
  • Name the “leadership moment” they are in and investigate, talk through, and honor both struggles and successes while discerning a way forward
  • Learn new skills for strengthening the capacity to listen with no agenda, ask open-ended questions, hold tensions in life-giving ways, and build relational trust.

Our hope is that by connecting with one another in mutually supportive spaces and being attentive to the presence of the Spirit around and within them that participants will remember to listen deeply to the whispers deep within their soul – whispers calling them to whole-hearted and authentic lives of service in the world.

To learn more about this exciting program initiative, please click here to check out the program website.