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DSO News: Summer Collegium on small church leadership

29 September 2009

From the DSO e-newsletter  (H/T:  Pearls Before Swine):

The play:

Summer Collegium to highlight small church leadership 
Applications are now available for the Summer Collegium, a project in support of small congregations at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA.  Clergy (and their spouses or partners) from 25 small churches of all Christian denominations are invited to spend nine days at Virginia Seminary for encouragement, education, rest and renewal.  All expenses, including travel, books, meals, lodging, child care at home and pulpit supply are paid by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.   

The theme of the 2010 Summer Collegium will be Leadership in the Small Congregation. The keynote speaker will be Alice Mann, a prolific writer on congregational ministry. John Bell from the Iona Community in Scotland also will join the worship team for the conference.  

The Players:

Alice Mann:  On the staff of the Alban Institute, and a consultant of sorts. 

Alban Institute:  From the website

“Alban is an interfaith not-for-profit organization that acts as an independent center of learning and innovation. We connect congregational leaders with the most creative people, ideas, and resources to fulfill their high callings.” 

Alban appears to be not exclusively Christian in its mission to build up congregations: 

“The Alban Institute touches the lives of many thousands of people across the country and around the world. In our work, we transcend denominational and faith boundaries. Thats one of our great strengths.”  

The services can be expensive.  One of their upcoming webinars e.g., costs $50, for a 1-hour session. 

Lilly Endowment:  Funds the Alban Institute

John Bell:  Musician and member of Iona Community and minister in the Church of Scotland, a mainline presbyterian denomination lagging slightly behind TEC. 

Notables from the Iona Community’s website…  Well, just read this

Analysis:  It would appear that the diocese is going through some changes over the course of the past decade.  Average Sunday Attendance, down to slightly over 8,000 from slightly under 10,000 in 2001.  Baptized membership also showing a decline of slightly more than 2,000 from 1997-2007.  The high-water marks for attendance and membership occurs in 2002, one year before the election of TEC’s first openly non-celebate gay bishop.  Note also the direction of membership decline after 2005, concurrent with the election of TEC’s new presiding bishop.  An inflection point in revenue appears to be happening between 2006 and 2007 (pretty sure that in 2008 and 2009, revenue is down).  Perhaps our leadership feels that smaller congregations need to be shored up.  Unfortunately, the problem appears to be tied to declining membership, a problem concurrent with the elections of Bp. Gene Robinson and our current presiding bishop. 

Critic’s Corner:

Their solution? 

Hire a church growth non-profit consulting agency, but make sure that the agency is not exclusive in its committment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and

invite someone from the Iona Community (a community that purports to be Christian, yet is tolerant of homosexual practice within their ranks) to also be at the event, and

invite DSO clergy, their spouses, or partners to attend the event, and

do it with other people’s money. 

Did I miss anything??

Cool !!   Do you guys give out stock tips also, or do I have to pay for something like that?

– Elder

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  1. Pearls Before Swine
    29 September 2009 at 8:23 PM

    I’m not sure if the idea is church growth or the recognition that they have a lot of small churches which are getting smaller and some larger churches becoming small as well. It is a shame that the DSO clergy have to choose between their spouse or partner, can’t they take both? 😉

    • Elder Oyster
      30 September 2009 at 2:55 AM

      RE: “It is a shame that the DSO clergy have to choose between their spouse or partner, can’t they take both?”

      I think the ‘partner’ bit refers to someone’s sexual partner, and one at that who might not fit the definition of spouse, as our civil laws are presently written. But.. point taken, though. 🙂

      Regards,
      – Elder

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