REFLECTIONS ON IMITATORS OF CHRIST

Members of Imitators of Christ Peer Group are recognized at the 2016 Annual Assembly.

Members of Imitators of Christ Peer Group are recognized at the 2016 Annual Assembly.

The Imitators of Christ is a clergy peer group that has been a part of the Kentucky Council of Churches HHOPE project since its inception in 2011. We started with four members in 2011, added three more in 2012. By 2014 we had twelve members and are currently six members strong.

Imitators of Christ present at the 2016 Annual Assembly were recognized for their commitment to the program and dedication to one another.

In our five year history, we have remained the only original peer group that is still operating under the Kentucky Council of Churches and we give all the glory to God. Although we come from various Christian faith traditions, we remained faithful to our commitment to be Imitators of Christ. We have supported each other through illnesses and pastoral transitions. We have attended graduations and installations, and traveled far and near to be faithful encouragers of each other.

As the time came for us to spread our wings and fly independently of the financial and advisory oversight of the Kentucky Council of Churches, we planned one final retreat before the October gathering at the Annual Assembly of the Kentucky Council of Churches.

THEME: BY FAITH, WE WILL TRANSITION SUCCESSFULLY INTO THE FUTURE (Scripture focus-Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”)

This theme depicts the Imitators of Christ from our inception to the present futuristic phase. As in every organization, there inevitably comes a time of transition. The proverbial saying that Time Brings About a Change, is now a reality for the members of the Imitators of Christ as we strive to fulfill our purpose by utilizing our gifts for the edification of growing the Kingdom of God. Therefore, we graciously embrace our future pathways, knowing spiritually, emotionally, and physically through our scripture theme because we walk by faith and not by sight! We are grateful to KCC and to the Lilly Foundation for these past years, and we look forward to where God is leading us in the future.  --  Rev. Dr. Amariah McIntosh

A Personal Testimony.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity afforded me to bond with my clergy sisters and provide support for one another around a holistic self-care model.

My ministerial calling is centered on Holistic Health and Wellness so this peer group was a good fit for me.  From a spiritual perspective, I've gained a prayer and accountability partner whom I love and respect.  Additionally, she has become a mentor to me in some ways and I am deeply grateful.  We complement each other very well.

The IOC HHope clergy peer group has been such a blessing to me and I am paying it forward. My goal is to educate and inspire others, both clergy and lay people to use health and wellness prevention tools and resources to maintain wholeness.  I am the Director of Holistic Health and Wellness for my church and plan on sharing with our pastor and congregation methods to take better care of ourselves, mind, body, soul and spirit.  

I'm thankful to God and to the Kentucky Council of Churches and Lilly Foundation for allowing me to participate in this amazing program.  Know that the seeds you have sown have produced fruit and the fruit will remain.  --  Rev. Dr. Yvonne McCoy

Second annual gathering of peer groups

Gregory WaldropGathering the evening before their program, participants shared a meal and their life experiences with health and ecumenism. Then we pushed the tables back to the edges and the Rev. Dr. Gregory Waldrop taught us some "folk games" from various lands. Let's just say that the apple crisp dessert was well earned with the exercise that ensued!

First Gathering of Peer Groups

“Sweet!” That’s what many people say when hearing good news. It’s a good summary of the first gathering of clergy peer groups in the “Health and Hospitality Opportunities for Peer Ecumenism” (HHOPE) program.

Many members of the first three groups to beregistered in this initiative came together on October 26th in Georgetown.






Encouraging words from a seasoned leader:

We began by conversing with the Rev. Dr. Charisse Gillett, the new president of Lexington Theological Seminary. In her new work Charisse is well positioned to continue her long-standing emphasis on wellness and mutual support for clergy through small groups. She encouraged the new groups to consider journaling, get away together, and prayerfully stay in touch.

Practicing what we preach about health:

We literally side-stepped the sedentary nature of too many meetings. Mr. Gerry Zúñiga, a teacher at Lexington Catholic High School, introduced us to Tai Chi. The slow-motion pattern of movements lived up to its favorable health impact report from the Mayo Clinic. Beginners among us were inspired by Gerry’s gracefulness and graciousness. 

We also ate healthy food, thanks to the enthusiastic caterers from Made From Scratch who make a point to buy locally.

Participants received a health goals form that is an aid to spelling out each individual’s own intentions about health improvement. The hope is that the peer groups program will help create a context of accountability and assistance.

Sharing lessons about hospitality:

HHOPE – Health and Hospitality Opportunities for Peer Ecumenism

Health and Hospitality – what do they mean to you personally and in your ministry? How might you be refreshed by exploring that question in a small group of your peers?

The Kentucky Council of Churches invites you to find out. We have received funding from the Lilly Endowment to foster such groups around Kentucky. We would welcome hearing from interested church leaders, especially clergy. Just call 859-269-7715 or email to kcc@kycouncilofchurches.org or fill out and send in the Declaration of Interest.

This is a three-year program. The small groups will form themselves ecumenically (members from various Christian traditions) and set a schedule for gathering for times together. They will develop some goals for themselves in relation to the themes of health and hospitality.

Each year in October, the groups will all be assembled in one place for a special program, dovetailing with the opportunity to attend the Council’s own annual assembly.



The team guiding this new program wants to hear from you. Pictured here, they include (from left to right):

The Rev. Marian Taylor, Council Executive Director
The Rev. Greg Alexander, Christian Church in Kentucky (Disciples of Christ)
Sr. Mary Luke Jones, OSB, of Our Lady of Grace Monastery
The Rev. Greg Waldrop, United Methodist Church
Ms. Jeanie Hartman, Council Administrative Assistant
The Rev. Tobias Pace, African Methodist Episcopal Church