By Rev. Dr. Amariah McIntosh

Last week, Rev. Dr. Toni Hawkins and I attended the Pastoral Excellence Network Conference in Oviedo Florida. It was entitled Peer Power: Cultivating Clergy Communities of Practice and Facilitator Training.  There were about 30-40 persons from various faith traditions present representing states from New York to Hawaii east to west and North Dakota to Texas north to south.

Our first day was spent learning about how clergy peer groups can become communities of practice, and the role of facilitators in making that happen. Some of what was shared was:

  • Clergy Communities of Practice (CCOP) are places where clergy can interpret the landscape and be there for others, kindle the hope, not patting others on the back, but challenging others to take new steps.
  • CCOP are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. (Etienne Wenger)
  • CCOP learn in situations instead of in classroom.
  • CCOP form sustaining friendships, especially outside the church.
  • CCOP prepare for a future church we cannot yet see or imagine.

We had small group workshops where we learned the Art of Innovation in Clergy Groups and A Model for Clergy Peer Groups taught by network instructors. We also learned more about the role of facilitators and peer learning group methods.

Rev. Hawkins and I feel our gaps regarding how we manage our own peer group can be filled by what we learned at this conference. We have much to share with the HHope oversight group and our Imitators of Christ peers.

KCC, thanks for the opportunity to learn and share!