Berkeley Divinity School Leadership Colloquia

The fall and spring Leadership Colloquia are designed to integrate learning across the curriculum. They offer contextual education and formation in the practice of leadership supporting the curricular requirements of Berkeley students.

In the first fall term, Berkeley students enroll in the Junior Colloquium on Vocational Discernment: Listening to God, Self, and Community (see Addendum B). During the fall term of their senior year, they are enrolled in the Senior Colloquium, Practicing Liturgical Celebration: The Practice of Leading Worship in Congregations . The Master of Divinity program requires Berkeley students to enroll in three terms of the Spring Leadership Formation Colloquium. For the two-year Master of Arts in Religion degrees, students enroll in the junior and senior year Fall Colloquia and two years of the Leadership Formation Colloquium.

The three-term Spring Leadership Colloquium seeks to develop the skills and capacities needed in pastoral leadership for students preparing to serve in the church, academy, or other organizations as faith leaders. This colloquium began in 2005, after consistent requests from alumni, trustees, bishops, and commissions on ministry that seminarians be formed with basic skills to meet the leadership challenges they would face in parishes, schools, and other institutions. In 2009, a sustaining grant allowed the colloquium to continue. Planning for the curriculum was based on the belief that leadership skills are taught most effectively through exposure to those who are already effective leaders, and that while leadership is always contextual, lessons can be learned and applied across contexts. In the first ten years of its existence, the colloquium has drawn primarily on alumni serving in a variety of positions willing to share the leadership experiences and lessons they have learned from on-the-ground experience. The pedagogy included presentations from and interaction with guest speakers as well as reading and class discussion.

The Fall Colloquium begins with an introduction to life in seminary, reviewing the rule of life, the pattern of worship, and community guidelines and expectations. The early weeks are designed to orient the entering class to the Colloquium as a place to explore vocational, spiritual, and leadership questions that arise as the student brings the academic learning of the classroom to bear upon the contextual learning that they engage in CPE, Field Education, courses in practical theology, and the experience of living in a seminary community. The Fall Colloquium is focused on vocational call. Using a model of three-part listening students are asked to consider how they listen to the ways that God speaks as they engage in discerning what their life’s work will be: listening for the voice of God, the voice of others in community, and the voice within oneself. When these three aspects of vocational call come into harmony, a sense of call, direction, and purpose is often the result.

After the first fall term Colloquium, the entering class joins with the middler and senior classes for a spring term Leadership Colloquium that brings all three classes together. The 2017 curriculum written for the Spring Leadership Colloquium continues the practice of presentations given by outside speakers, and adds case study, role play, and improvisation to develop the skills and capacities of leadership to prepare students to lead in a changing world.

The complexity of the world that seminary students enter when they leave seminary necessitates that they be well versed in the skills of transformational leadership. They lead in a culture that is post-Christian. In order to lead effectively, clergy and pastoral leaders need to be equipped with the skills and tools to engage their context in creative, adaptive ways that lead to growth and vitality in congregations.

Colloquium speakers are invited to speak on issues pertinent to leadership formation such as:

  • making effective use of lay leaders in change strategies, sustaining yourself and your ministry,
  • conflict resolution, setting and keeping boundaries, learning from failure,
  • reading context and cultivating contextual analysis, knowing your church’s story,
  • moving beyond the church walls to collaborate, asking for money,
  • setting a compelling vision, the practice of non-anxious presence,
  • the power of small group learning and feedback, the role of mentors and coaches,
  • spiritual practices that sustain and support pastors,
  • differentiation between self and role, staying connected with those who disagree with you,
  • sustaining a life of prayer,
  • trusting God and gaining the trust of others,
  • using creativity and entrepreneurship effectively in starting new ministries,
  • developing active ministries of outreach and evangelism,
  • connecting theological aims with specific goals and strategies,
  • engaging conflict directly and proactively, and
  • leading a parish or organization whose hallmarks are social outreach, joy, kinship, intimacy, and active engagement in spiritual development.

Colloquium speakers for 2016 and 2017 have included two lay leaders from an inner-city parish; a priest who runs a peace camp for Israeli, Palestinian, and American youth; a monk; a nonprofit strategy consultant; a bishop; an inner-city vicar who runs a youth-program for over a thousand children each year; two diocesan canons for congregational development; the head of an independent Episcopal school; a secondary school teacher and administrator; a layperson who works in educational leadership recruiting; a counselor and psychologist; and rectors and assistants from large and small parishes in a variety of geographic settings. This diversity of presentations exposes students to the breadth of lay and ordained leadership roles in the Church.