Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

S3 (Sabbath, Study and Service) Program Holds 10th Orientation/Evaluation Retreat

by Lifelong Learning Staff

2013 cohort members ponder project proposals & group building.

 Members of 11 peer groups gathered at the seminary February 18-21 for the S3 Orientation Retreat. Members of the 6 groups in the 2012 cohort conducted final project evaluations, while 5 incoming groups received their orientation to the project and explored approaches to becoming a group with Rodger Nishioka, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education. Both groups spent time with event keynote speaker, MaryAnn McKibben Dana, M.Div. ’03 and author of Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment In Holy Time (Chalice Press). Dana also hosted a lunch discussion with students, staff, faculty, and S3 participants during the course of the week.

The following thumbnail sketches written by each group as part of the grant approval process provide glimpses into their projects:

Connect More!
(A geographically disbursed group of men and women serving as solo or associate pastors in their first or second calls)

Our group came together across great distances from various callings with one shared need: connection. As pastors, we seek connection with other friends and colleagues in ministry to provide accountability and grounding in a shared sense of call. In the midst of our conversations, we find ourselves longing for connection as well as reunion--opportunities to revisit our histories, reclaim our identities, and rekindle enthusiasm for the journey. Our goal is to explore the sacred nature of reunions through the lens of reuniting in Christ.
Our need for reunion is threefold: reunion with God, reunion with self, and reunion with others. For some this may mean a return to our roots, for others reconciliation, and for others an expression of love for those we miss. We will explore biblical passages about reunions to serve as guides in our own reconnections. We will seek out individuals in our personal lives that we long to reconnect with. We will reconnect with our own identity through spiritual direction. We will share our learning with each other by utilizing technology and social media. Our time together will include three reunions when we will share our learnings and enjoy Sabbath together. We trust this practice of reunion will bring us renewed sense of identity both personally and professionally.

If the Soul Fits…
(Five clergy women in California: pastors, associate pastors, full & part-time)

We are a group of clergy women in various stages of ministry working with a variety of congregations, who share a desire for connecting role and soul and inviting our congregations to explore what it means to deeply listen to each other. Our plan is to:
• Meet monthly, in a 3 hour session, following the Circle of Trust approach for spiritual formation and community building developed by Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage and Renewal. This involves connecting around a third thing, sitting in silence and sharing our truth into the center of the circle. We will use guidelines for this process that include touchstones and the art of asking open and honest questions.
• Hold a 2-day retreat for the group where we can more deeply explore the Circle of Trust process and develop an introductory experience for our congregations.
• Utilize A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer as “text” for our study and learning.
• Convene 3 one-day workshops for people in our congregations that will be regionally based and will introduce them to the work. Our hope is that this work will lead to the formation of Circle of Trust groups in up to 3 of our congregations. We will share the results of this work with the Center for Courage and Renewal and their Courage to Lead initiative for clergy and congregations.

Propping Moses
(Seven clergywomen and men in the greater Atlanta/NE GA area; pastors, graduate students, leaders in educational, philanthropic or judicatory organizations)

Perhaps you have heard it said, "Laughter is healing, and good for the soul." But how often do pastors laugh? How often do pastors see it as a healthy practice to lead others to laugh, to take themselves and life itself less seriously? Sabbath is often perceived as a time of quiet and reflection, but we will Sabbath with one another through meals, laughter, and joy. We intend to study the art of humor, to utilize resources on the subject, and to witness professional humorists practicing their art. In service to others, we imagine assembling some of these learnings and sharing them with interested peers in area Presbyteries. We look forward to synthesizing Sabbath, study, and service with our understanding of the holiness of laughter.

Interfaith Conversations
(An interfaith group of 3 men and 1 woman from Savannah)

In the current climate of violence, fear, misrepresentation, and misunderstanding, it is important to equip religious leaders to develop relationships with our neighbors from different faith traditions. It is important to know what our neighbors believe, how they practice their faith, and what common concerns we share. Making connections and developing community among people who sit in churches, mosques, and synagogues is a means to build authentic interfaith engagement.

Our group of four includes a Presbyterian pastor of a church, a Muslim imam of a mosque, a Jewish rabbi of a synagogue and an ordained Presbyterian minister who serves as hospital chaplain, working daily in an interfaith setting. We will study and learn about each other’s faith and practices, provide service by guiding a hospital’s construction of an interfaith chapel, and enjoy the Sabbath of shared meals, meal preparation, and social times where we will meet each other’s families.

(Greater Atlanta area; four African-American clergywomen, all graduate students and full or part-time counselors or chaplains)

Our group would like to implement a project that seeks to explore the effectiveness of self-care activities for women of color in ministry. We will do this by engaging in self-care practices throughout the year, reflecting on these experiences, literature, and movies that deal with how women take care of themselves in the midst of life and ministry. At the close of our year together, we will conduct an autumn workshop for men and women in ministry entitled: “SELAH: Self-Care for the Season.”

Information about future S3 cohorts will be announced in the next issue of JOURNEYING TOGETHER.