By Paula Schaap, Communications Director
“And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:26.
On a sunny, brisk February morning, more than 90 church members, both lay and ordained, gathered at St. Luke’s, Woodland, to discover ways to be better leaders for their congregations and communities.
Bishop Barry Beisner opened the Congregational Leadership Conference Saturday with a meditation on St. Matthias, whose feast day was observed the day before.
Bishop Barry Beisner delivers his homily at the conference at St. Luke's, Woodland.
“Being an apostle is no guarantee of success,” Bishop Barry said at the opening church service as the stained glass windows glowed in the early morning sun. “The fact that we’re chosen doesn’t mean we don’t have to do some work on our end,” he added.
He also noted that Book of Acts opens with the Apostles gathering to wait for God’s call, something all church members should do.
The plenary conversation – “Benedictine Spirituality: Strengthening Your Congregation’s Life Together,” echoed Bishop Barry’s exhortation to wait for God’s call. In that session, the Rev. Canon Andrea McMillin and the Rev. Anne Clarke asked attendees to turn to someone they didn’t know and describe a time when they felt truly listened to.
“The Rule of Benedict calls us to listen and connect,” McMillin said.
Conference attendees listen and connect during plenary conversation.
Gregg Wickham said his church, Grace Church, Fairfield, had devised a special way to listen to its congregants. Index cards were handed out for people to fill in the blank on the sentence: “Grace is a blessing in my life because …” Wickham said that, after reading the cards, he began to realize how deeply connected to the church people were.
“We forget how blessed we really are,” he said.
Workshops at the conference included different ways vestry, clergy and other church leaders could be of service to their congregations and communities, including best practices for finances, community service and safeguarding physical property.
Michael Duncan, a new vestry member at St. John’s, Roseville, said it was “good to hear about some of the challenges other vestries face.”
Shannon DeArmond, another first-time vestry member from St. Luke’s, said she learned from the plenary conversation that “sometimes you have to give listening as a gift.”
Bishop Barry Beisner welcomes attendees at Congregational Leadership Conference.
She also appreciated the way Bishop Barry took new vestry and mission committee members through the Canons to help them understand their responsibilities.
The Saturday gathering was a day of information gathering and giving. A time to connect and to find ways to heed Bishop Barry’s prayer at the opening service: “Let our work be about Christ’s vision and our witness be of Christ’s resurrection and his power to transform us and transform our world.”
Click here for more information on the remaining conference.