The Olympic peninsula just outside of Seattle is home to deer, otters, and bald eagles. The shore is decorated with driftwood structures, and the mountains loom impossibly close to the horizon. It also serves as home to The College for Congregational Development.
This past June, a delegation from St. Mary’s in the Valley, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and diocesan staff attended the college for the very first time. The program was incredible. Our delegation learned and explored models for change that could be applied in our ministries. We visited neighboring congregations, celebrated their ministries, and considered how they welcome and engage with newcomers. We learned facilitation and feedback techniques and practiced them in our small groups.
And for all of those things listed above, it barely covers the surface of this experience!
Mother Carole Horton-Howe of St. Thomas of Canterbury, Temecula, said, “So often the concept of growing a congregation takes us to places of anxiety and despair. We’ve all heard about the shrinking church. The College isn’t buying it. Their programs invite us to partner with them, with our congregations and the Holy Spirit in work that transforms anxiety into hopefulness and builds our churches in real and tangible ways.
“I found the CCD experience to be an energy-saturated and joyful experience that encourages action through informed processes. Information was shared in plenary sessions and in small groups in realistic scenarios. The curricula were thoughtful and well-presented. During our time with leaders and students at the CCD, we shared ideas and tried on the college’s processes. Leaders are generous with sharing their time and expertise – readily available for one-on-one brainstorming sessions. We returned to St. Thomas of Canterbury, ready to implement what we have learned. We can’t wait to see these processes at work and feel confident that we’ll also see God’s love move through us and into the lives of our neighbors.”
The College for Congregational Development is a two-year program. Before returning to the college next Summer, our delegation will have reading to do at home. Each participating congregation also has a project to design and implement in their local contexts. Next year we will return to the college for another deep dive into the material before completing our assessments.
An additional blessing of our time at The College for Congregational Development is the close ties it formed in our delegation. The delegation has plans to meet throughout 2023/24 to check in and update each other on their progress.
If you or your church would like more information about the College for Congregational Development, please contact Diocesan Director of Formation Charlette Preslar at email@example.com for more information.
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