The impetus for this, Gathering of Leaders series, stems from the work of Bishop Payne, retired from the Diocese of Texas. The purpose of the Gathering of Leaders is to assist in the empowerment, support and development of such leaders. To this end, the Gathering provides a place for leaders to come together without contentiousness and partisanship to share their love of the Christ and of the Church, to empower each other through mutual encouragment, to deepen their skills as transformational leaders, to establish networks which will aid their ministries, and to clarify their understanding of God's emerging vision for the renewal of the Episcopal Church.
The Gathering of Leaders is committed to the following core values:
>The Missionary call of Christ
>A hope-filled vision for the Episcopal Church
>Respect for differences
>Creative and innovative leadership
>Spiritual and numerical growth
The opening session unpacked what this means. The GOL brings together transformational leaders from across the Episcopal Church for mutual encouragement, sharing of ideas and reflection on the spiritual and leadership challenges of ministry today. Participants include bishops, priests, and lay people of demonstrated leadership potential who have at least 15 years of active ministry remaining in their leadership careers. Those who gather agree to respect differences in theology and approach and to leave disputes about divisiveness church issues at the door. Each gathering is limited to 40 persons.
Leaders are encouraged to come to one Gathering a year. The broad theme is, The Missionary Church. Each year the Gatherings will have a theme based on the broader theme. This year the theme is "Christian Formation in the Missionary Church." Each gathering will include Bible study on scripture and questions related to the theme. We looked at Barnabas as an example of missionary discipleship and leadership and reflected on readings from Acts. We also had several presentations from clergy doing missional leadership: from traditional old churches on the East coast doing innovative things to an emerging church in LA. We had a wonderful theological presentation by Christopher Beeley, a prof at Yale, on Christian Formation. I'll write more about that later as it was my favorite part of the conference. We also had time for worship and for panel presentations by bishops and seminary professors. All in all it was quite excellent.