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Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Quickening


Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Quickening

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									                         Sustaining Pastoral Excellence
                                                             At St. Francis Retreat Center


                         What’s Happening at SPE
                          As we head into the many changes of Fall, so SPE heads into its own
                          Mary Tardif has decided to take the position of Director of Adult
                          Education/Formation at St. Gerard Parish in Lansing. Terry Feuka will
                          take the position of Grant Administrator, as well as continue the position
                          of Media Specialist for the Resource Center.
                          We all wish Mary many blessings and send her off with many heartfelt
                          prayers of thanksgiving as well as prayers of hope and good will for her
Sustaining                new path in her ministry.
Pastoral                  If you would like to contact Mary, you may email her at
                 or call her at 517-323-2379.
Ministering to the        We are currently in the process of applying for a 3 year extension for the
                          SPE Grant. The current grant will be over Dec.31, 2008.

                            Last Sabbath Time Retreat for 2008

                            Take a Break ----- Catch your Breath

                                          December 1-3 Monday – Wednesday

                            All Retreats include 4 meals and 2 nights stay. Cost: $89.00.

                                 Facilitating Healthy Pastor-Congregation Relations
                         (Clergy and Lay Leadership Training Program 2008-2010) – Speaker:
                         Richard Blackburn - This workshop is intended to help congregations design
 If you are new          systems for enhancing the relationship between churches and their pastoral
     to                  leadership. It would be an appropriate workshop for pastors, pastoral staff
     newsletters         leaders, lay leaders and other church members, or judicatory staff and
                         committees. Sept. 18, 2008 9:00am – 5:00 pm. Register at www.spe-
     by e-mail:
                or call the St. Francis Retreat Center at 517-669-8321 ex.11 or click
 You can click on the
     highlighted items
     (run your cursor
     over the item and
                               Quickening the Art Spirit – kindling and encouraging vitality
                            of faith through questing, quieting, creating with Rev. Dr. Mary Ellen
                                              “Whether you are discovering the connection between faith and
                                              art for the first time, or you are seeking a rebirth of sacred art
                                              in your life, this day is designed to offer nurture, insight,
                                              encouragement, personal quiet and creative expression within
                                              a prayerful community. Hear stories, be playful, enjoy the
                                              wonder of nature and do hands-on art making”.

    you will get a          Join Rev. Dr. Mary Ellen Ashcroft September 30, 2008 8:30am to 3:00pm at
    message if it is        St. Francis Retreat Center, DeWitt. Click here for brochure. Click here to register.
    “clickable). If you     Or call 517-669-8321.
    click on it, you will
    automatically go to
    that document,
    email address, or
    website. Try it!
                            Now forming…..
NOTE: This will not work
   in PDF format (if
   the document says             Long-Term Pastors Support Group
   .pdf at the end).                Pastors who have served the same congregation for more than seven years
                            may sometimes experience the need for renewal, sharing, and rediscovering the
                            freshness of their call. A Long-Term Pastors Support Group is forming with the
                            goals of sustaining excellence in our ministries, our preaching and administration,
                            and committing ourselves to spiritual growth for ourselves and for those with whom
                            we work. We commit to meeting faithfully together, once a month for two years.
                            We also commit be being accountable to one another and being faithful in prayer for
                            one another.
                                    Pastors who are interested may contact:
                            Rev. Dr. Mark W. Jennings
                            First Presbyterian Church of Richland
                            8047 Church St.
                            Richland, MI 49083
                   Pastors Support Group

                                  Family Systems Clergy Group
                              A family systems peer group will begin meeting in DeWitt at the St Francis Retreat
                            Center on the 4th Wednesdays of most months September through May 2009 from
                            noon to 4:00 pm, September 24, October 22, Nov 26, none in December, January
                            28, February 25, March 25, April 22, May 27.

                            Naomi Garcia, West Michigan Conference Ministry Consultant, will be the principle
                            facilitator with a focus on teaching people how to apply family systems theory to
                            their own professional and personal lives. The format will look something like this:
                            eating lunch together, opening devotions/spiritual journeying by the host or group
                            participant, 1 hour of content followed by 1-2 case presentations by the participants
                            who volunteer in advance.

                            The content to begin this group will be a study of Roberta Gilbert's 8 CONCEPTS OF
                            BOWEN THEORY. This is the text Roberta Gilbert originally wrote for the clergy
                            groups she facilitates in Virginia. This book is an easy read in spite of the dense
                            nature of the topic.

                            The intent of the case presentations is to give participants the benefit of being
                            coached around their own functioning in a particular situation plus feedback from the
                            observing rest of the group. Naomi will follow a format Murray Bowen used to train
                            his therapy students.
Family systems theory as it applies to the life of the congregation is based on the
application of Murray Bowen's natural or family systems theory in psychiatry. The
late Rabbi Edwin Friedman (author of FRIEDMAN'S FABLES, GENERATION TO
SHIKSA) was the first to make the application leap from psychiatry to the faith
community. Since Friedman’s initial interdisciplinary application, Peter Steinke,
Roberta Gilbert, Victoria Harrison, Richard Blackburn, Ronald Richardson, Jim
Herrington, Trisha Taylor, Larry Foster and others have been helping professionals in
the ministry be effective through their own maturity. Murray Bowen was the 1st in
the USA to make use of family diagrams and sibling position in the practice of

You may contact the host Mark Johnson with
any questions or comments about the meeting place and accommodations.
You may contact Naomi Garcia at (616.459,4503 ext
322 or 616.430.1095) with any questions or comments about the content.

    Rhythm and Song Covenant Group

A new experience called “Rhythm and Song Covenant Group” will be offered for
pastoral leaders who love God and music. Designed around a daily rhythm of
morning and evening prayer-songs, this group will be a source of renewed joy and
energy. Each member will be invited to keep covenant with their own prayer-song
times at home between meetings. A desire for a personal community of the Spirit
rooted in service to God may call you to this group which will meet once a month on
second Monday mornings October - March and first Monday mornings April - June.
The first meeting will be October 13, 9:30-12:30, and will conclude June 1. The cost
will be $30 each meeting, plus $8.00 for lunch (optional, with advance reservation).
The book, Sounds of the Eternal by J Philip Newell, will need to be purchased and
Sharon’s companion songbook is recommended. Contact Sharon Mick McAuley,
the facilitator, for more details or to register: 517-881-4351. Whether or not
you have musical skill, your singing, tapping, drumming, humming, warbling,
whispering sounds will be enthusiastically welcomed.
 Librarian Available:

 8am to 3pm

 Monday to Thursday
                         Pastoral Peer Leadership Groups
 8am to 12noon Fridays
                         What we’re learning about how they support pastoral leaders
 Library Open:           and their ministries
                         - Patti Kenney, PPLG coordinator
 9am – 5pm
                                 St. Francis Retreat Center has hosted 14 pastoral peer leadership groups
 Monday to Friday        (PPLGs) with over 100 pastoral leaders from 16 denominations on our beautiful 90
                         acres since 2006. We wanted to share what we are learning from them about how
                         they support pastoral leaders and their ministries.

                                 How the groups are structured

                                  Our PPLGs use a variety of models. Most groups meet for a half-day on our
                         campus, and break bread together with food provided by St. Francis’ marvelous
                         kitchen staff. A few of our groups meet less frequently for a one- or two-night stay.
                         The focus of each group is unique; some groups use a topical or book study to guide
                         their interaction; others follow a disciplined program of study, such as clergy family
                         systems or Artist’s way. Still others use a Sabbath retreat or spiritual direction

SPE at St. Francis       model. Some share case studies of situations in their ministries where they would
                         like to explore new options or opportunities. Others focus on informal sharing and
Retreat Center           prayer with personal and professional checking-in and accountability. Most groups
                         shift their focus or schedule sometime along the way to fit better with how their
                         group is developing and the needs of individual members. We found that both types
                         of groups have worked well in supporting pastoral leaders and their ministries.

 703 E. Main Street,
 DeWitt, MI 48820                Why pastoral leaders seek out a PPLG

 Phone: 866.669.8321              In most cases, one or two people were catalysts for starting the groups and
                         inviting others to join. In the case of the new groups, two of the groups were
 Fax: 517.669.7332       influenced in their formation by highly successful existing groups. Some groups
                         formed initially with the intent to engage in a project. Pastoral leaders were
 E-mail:                 motivated to join by such factors as:
                             •   Desire to connect with colleagues in a deeper way
                             •   Wish for ongoing support in ministry; ideas, stories and resources for
 We’re on the Web!               problem-solving and gaining perspective
                             •   Seeking a place to attend to their relationship with God       •   Need for a place of safety to “let down” and be themselves, explore pastoral
                                 identity and ministry issues

                                 Many have found the support of colleagues, sacred space of the Retreat
                         Center, rest, freedom to share challenges or concerns, to have a surprisingly strong
                         impact on their ability to maintain a well-lived pastoral life. Nearly all of the
                         participants (94% handed in evaluations and/or participated in an annual focus
                         group evaluation) indicated that they would continue to be in their current group or
                         seek out a similar group in the future.

                                 What is Pastoral Excellence?

                                 Pastoral leaders’ understandings of pastoral excellence developed
                         through their participation in pastoral peer leadership groups. Sustaining pastoral
                         excellence requires living a balanced life and nurturing one’s own relationship with
                             •   “It helps to acknowledge the multitasking that is a part of our everyday lives
                                 and the toll it takes, and to take time to rest, renew and be fed.”
                             •   “You can’t give what you don’t have. We minister too often on fumes. I
        can’t ask my parishioners to practice Sabbath if I don’t do it myself.”
    •   “I can be isolated. Meeting intentionally with colleagues allows me to get
        feedback, be intentional, troubleshoot, bounce ideas off each other.”
    •   “The affirmation I receive from my colleagues helps me to accept where I
        am and acknowledge my gifts as well as face my challenges… We are not
        judgmental or competitive; we’re supportive of one another’s ministry.”
    •   “I have permission to ‘land’. And the paradox is, slowing down can make it
        happen faster.”

        What difference has being in a peer group made for
        pastoral leaders?

        As a result of being in a pastoral peer leadership group, participants noted
attitudes and behaviors that have shifted in their approaches to ministry:

    •   Pastors employ a more collaborative approach to ministry: “I reach out
        instead of working alone. Wonderful supports emerge… that were there all
        the time, only I wouldn’t have seen them or tapped into them.”
    •   Topical studies find practical applications “in the trenches”: “I keep going
        back to that and challenge myself: What does it mean for me to be
    •   Facing personal challenges and weaknesses support more effective ministry:
        “This is the first time I can really trust the people I’m sitting with. I am
        encouraged to explore the dark underbelly—this has a profound impact on
        how I work through the week. I am more comfortable in my own skin.”
    •   Meeting together calls out a deep spirituality that is grounding. “I am
        reminded we are all beloved children of God. Meeting with [these
        colleagues] has helped me to identify and name my particular call, to value
        it and claim it.”
    •   Colleagues can make it possible to continue during challenging times. “I
        have the experience of being sustained. This past year has been very
        challenging. I don’t know if I would have survived without the presence of
        these people… who understand the kinds of pressures I face… who get it.”

         The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Program at St Francis Retreat Center is
seeking continuing resources for supporting PPLGs. Currently, four groups have
achieved sustainability and are meeting without a need for support from St. Francis.
Other groups are forming this fall with support from our staff, and may be eligible
for financial support in 2009. Two of these groups currently have open enrollment:
a Family Systems Group and a Rhythm and Song Covenant Group (see information
elsewhere in this newsletter.) If you are interested in forming or joining a Pastoral
Peer Leadership Group, contact the SPE office at St. Francis. You may also reach
the SPE PPLG coordinator, Patti Kenney directly at or 734-730-
Future SPE Events Calendar

 Sept. 18 9am – 5pm Facilitating Healthy Pastor-
 Congregation Relations – Richard Blackburn (Clergy and Lay
 Leadership Training Program) register at or call
 517-669-8321 ex.11 or click here.

 September 30, 2008 Quickening the Art Spirit A one day
 retreat for exploring and experiencing a quickening of the spirit through
 creative activity. The day is designed to offer nurture, insight, encouragement,
 personal quiet and creative expression within a prayerful community. Hear
 stories, be playful, enjoy the wonder of nature and do hands-on art making. All
 levels of interest and skill in the creative arts are welcome. Cost: $35 (includes
 beverages, snacks, lunch, handouts, the use of basic art supplies). The
 facilitator will by Rev. Dr. Mary Ellen Ashcroft. Click here for brochure. Click
 here to register. Or call 517-669-8321.

 October 4-5, 2008 Project: Weaving the Future An initiation
 course in youth and young adult ministry offered by the Diocese of Grand Rapids Hispanic
 Ministry Office. For more information, contact Luis Beteta at or (616) 243-3927.

 October 6-10, 2008 2008 NCAYR Conference -
 Contemplation, Church and Wholeness (Course: Religion
 and Health) - Faculty includes Dr. Gene Hausmann, Dr. John M. Perkins
 and Mark Yaconelli, M.A. Come and learn the answers to these questions -- Is
 religion good for your health? Are there health risks associated with religion?
 Are some religious beliefs healthier than others? Which religion is the
 healthiest? Which religious practices have posititve health effects? For more
 information please contact Gene Hausmann at 517-937-9042.

 December 1-3, 2008 Sabbath Time Retreat

 Click here to register or call at 517-669-8321 ex.11.

Past SPE Events
Healthy Congregation Workshop by the Presbytery of Lake Huron

Hmong Christian Ministries

Trauma Recovery for Those Recovering from Abuse and Neglect

Instituto FE Y VIDA (for Hispanic Youth Leaders)

Faithful Response to Domestic Violence: A workshop on domestic violence for clergy
by Disciples of Christ

Icon Writing Workshop by Prosopon School of Iconography

Information for these and other events may be found at our Website

Please watch for more detailed information to be featured for these events
in future SPE Newsletters.
What’s Happening at The SPE
Resource Center
                  If you are reading this newsletter, you probably have already
                  signed up as an SPE Resource Center patron. If you are not
                  sure or know that you are not a patron, please contact Terry at
                  517.669.8321 or email to sign up.
                  Please see our catalog online (click here)

 This is a great time of year to clean out the desk, closet, study or den of
books that you no longer want or need. The SPE Resource Center accepts
donations. Once you deliver your items, they become the property of the
Resource Center. The items are then reviewed to see if they are useful to
the collection. If they are not useful then the items are put on the DISCARD
shelf in the back of the Resource Center. Anyone who comes in may take
any item off of that shelf and take it home to keep – for free.

New Items at the Resource Center

                Into the Great Silence – DVD
                The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, 2008
                The Friendship of women: a spiritual
                tradition by Joan Chittister, 2000.
                Praying through grief: healing prayer
                services for those who mourn by Mauryeen
                O’Brian, 1997.
                The Rosary: worry beads for anxious parents
                by Patricia M. Robertson, 2003.

 Come and check us out!

Newsletter Archives
Past Newsletters can be found at SPE website - Newsletters

As always, there is one-on-one reference assistance.
Terry is more than happy to answer your question or get material for you.

For further information or assistance, please feel free to contact Terry Feuka at 517-
669-8321 ex.37 or email her at

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