“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:
A rich time of sharing and listening about hospitality involved us in hearing familiar Bible stories in new ways and imparting lessons learned in our own lives.
By the time we gathered for our closing worship experience – a “Compline” service borrowed from St. Meinrad’s monastery – we found our enjoyment of each other involved a good bit of laughter.
Tasting the Council’s annual assembly:
Several HHOPE participants stayed for the Kentucky Council of Churches annual assembly on the topic of immigration, and one group recruited a new member at that event. “Sweet” – a way to paraphrase Psalm 133, “How good and how pleasant it is when the children of God dwell together in unity.” Within weeks of the assembly the total number of groups in the program rose to six and the total number of participants to 45. We know that next October we’ll enjoy an even larger gathering!