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Sharing the dream of God: Clergy as local theologians nurturing god's mission and more

The Rev. Sheelagh Clarke

Right on the heels of the October Clergy Conference, 20 clergy representing three generations of clergy cohorts came together for two days at Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center, to take a deep dive into some new material and rekindle commitment to the missional journey and their fellow clergy in their cohorts. The presenters and leaders of the conference were John McLaverty (our consultant from The Missional Network) and the Revs. Bill Allport, Sheelagh Clarke, Rose Hassan, Vicki McGrath and Paul Olsson.

On the first day we were joined by our Bishop, Carlye Hughes, and together we explored new material on what type of leadership we need, becoming local theologians, and resistance to change. John McLaverty also joined us to lead a session on Resistance, and to keep us faithful to the basic understandings that shape our journey.

Throughout the 36-hour conference participants Dwelt in the Word, learned together, processed and discerned in small and large groups. We allowed space for responses, as well as responses to immediate concerns including the recent shootings in Pittsburgh. Each morning, noontime and evening we worshipped together, and our chaplain – Rose Hassan – used the words of this collect: “establish in us a community of hope, not to contain your mystery, but to be led beyond security into your sacred space,” which for many of us embodies the journey we find ourselves on in these uncertain times.

Beyond learning new things together, one of the core objectives is the deepening of relationships in the clergy cohorts. The cohorts covenant to meet regularly, engage in adaptive challenge work and commit to a regular spiritual practice. This conference was enriched by the coming together of the three generations of clergy cohorts. Wisdom and examples from the earlier cohort experiences and experiments added to conversations throughout the two-day event.

“Our time together offered a great opportunity to share the missional work we’re all attempting to do in our particular context,” said one participant.” New concepts and ideas that were shared helped fuel my enthusiasm to continue on this journey and rekindling the relationships I have with fellow clergy engaging this work was a definite plus.”