FROM THE RECTOR
In a couple of days I will be flying up to Seattle for the Diocese of Olympia’s College for Congregational Development (CCD). As many of you know, we have been involved with the College for several years now, sending a couple of teams to CCD in western Washington, and as I write, a team with Emily Hansen Curran and Madeline Feeley are at CCD in the Diocese of Northern California, at the Bishop’s Ranch.
As I’ve shared before in other venues, I found my seminary training to be excellent in the areas of theology, liturgy, and the craft of the priesthood. And, at the same time, little time and attention was given to group process, change, and leadership––critical components of parish ministry. For the first decade or so of my priesthood, I learned through trial and error, instinct, and from intentional work with colleagues. This worked ok, but I knew that there had to be a better way.
Then, several years ago at a conference known as the Gathering of Leaders, I heard about this nascent College of Congregational Development in Seattle. Four of us All Soulsians soon found our way there and I was stunned to find a dedicated group of people teaching a curriculum that pulled from the best in the world of Organization Development (OD), and had created models that gave insight into how church works well. To me, an admitted church development geek, it felt like Disneyland. I soaked up as much as I could (the 12 hour days felt like drinking from a fire hose), and was enthused to come back for more.
Our participation in CCD that summer led me into further study on my sabbatical of 2015, considering congregational development generally, and what it means for us at All Souls Parish specifically. Then, last year, I joined the team of trainers to teach, excited to both delve into greater depth with the material, as well as learn from the assembled group. It was an illuminating experience, and one that I am looking forward to doing again next week, as the re-engagement with this material never fails to illicit ideas and possibilities for how All Souls can continue to be a healthy, vital and engaged community.
The teams that will be attending next week’s College in Olympia predominantly come from within that diocese, though there will be participants from all over the Episcopal Church (including our own Martin Elfert and Ken Powell from Grace Church in Portland, Oregon). As well, the trainers come from a variety of contexts and from around the country: in addition to trainers from the Diocese of Olympia, we are from the dioceses of Spokane, Alaska, Oregon, Rochester and California. As much as I enjoy teaching and engaging with people from the various congregational contexts, I’m also looking forward to learning from the assembled trainers and their experience as engaged leaders in their communities.
In all, I am so very grateful to you, All Souls Parish, for the shared commitment to learning and developing, both as a community and for us as guides and leaders of this parish. To be able to learn and grow as part of one’s profession is a great privilege and joy.
God only knows what ideas and possibilities will emerge during this trip to college.
From the Adult Formation Team
All Souls’ delightful and wise summer reading: The Book of Joy
In April 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu travelled from South Africa to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday. With them was Douglas Abrams, a writer and editor, who helped create a record of their historic conversations over the next week. In The Book of Joy, they trade intimate stories, tease each other continually, and share their Buddhist and Christian spiritual practices. Together, they looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: how do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?
All Souls begins its communal reading of The Book of Joy after the 9:00 am service on June 18th in the Parish Hall, with the discussion led by the Rev. Michael Lemaire. Please come whenever you can. Each week will have a different leader and will focus on a different section of the book, but the questions and ideas are so engaging that the discussions will be easy to join.
Copies are available at the Berkeley Public Library and in paperback and as an e-book for about $14. Contact Stephan Quarles if you’d like to borrow one of the copies the parish has purchased for our use.
All Souls are welcome to any and all of the book group discussions. This is a great chance for the whole parish to learn and talk together about how to cultivate a more joyful, compassionate, and loving approach to life.
– Sheryl Fullerton