Six dioceses explore models for effective congregational development

By ENS staff, June 28, 2011

[Episcopal News Service] Sharing resources and ideas for congregational development across Episcopal Church dioceses is as the heart of a June 26-July 2 conference at the Duncan M. Gray Conference Center in Mississippi.

Participants are studying and discussing models for organizational development in congregations, developing leadership, facilitation and assessment skills, and visiting six central Mississippi congregations to study those parish’s organization, functioning and ministry. The curriculum is influenced by Benedictine spirituality, according to a press release from the Diocese of Mississippi.

The conference is the second year session of a two-year program known as the Cooperative College for Congregational Development.

It is anticipated that the six sponsoring dioceses will form their own congregational development groups for local leadership training, the release said, adding that some dioceses may connect with neighboring dioceses to organize joint efforts.

“This conference is a healthy model of synergistic, creative cooperation between dioceses to provide opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them individually,” said the Rev. Canon Melissa Skelton, canon for congregational development and leadership in the Diocese of Olympia, who led the conference. “I am happy to work with these six dioceses to help them embrace renewed visions for congregational development.”

Sixty lay and ordained leaders from the dioceses of Alabama, Arkansas, East Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Upper South Carolina are attending. The conference is staffed by clergy and staff members from the six dioceses.

The two-year program reflects a similar program Skelton leads in the Diocese of Olympia, according to the release.

The formation of the Cooperative College for Congregational Development emerged from a meeting of Province IV Transition Ministers three years ago, according to the release. The six sponsoring dioceses provided seed money to underwrite the conference and provided staff to facilitate it.