In the “Clergy Into Action Study” of effective clergy leadership, Dr. David Gortner reports that “the dominant model of pastoral/priestly leadership over-emphasizes the pastoral, homiletic, and sacramental facets of ministry and de-emphasizes (and even seeks to avoid) the facets of ministry having to do with organizational leadership and community-building.” Newly ordained clergy report low levels of self-confidence for the work of community outreach and connection, as well as organizational leadership. (See http://into-action.net/)
As the Rev. Amy McCreath, in her role as Director of Contextual Education at Episcopal Divinity School, reports:
“it became clear to me that what Scott Cormode calls the ‘ecology of vocation’ in the church has not changed much in the last twenty years. That is, the factors shaping an aspirant’s understanding of what their ministerial life will look like lead them to assume they will be mainly serving the pastoral needs of those already assembled in the church building.” (Scott Cormode (principal investigator), Emily Click, Terri Elton, Susan Maros, and Lisa Withrow, “The Ecology of Formation,” Journal of Religious Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 2, Fall 2012.)
One of the four central factors contributing to an “ecology of vocation” is a person’s experience in seminary, both on campus and off. The Episcopal seminaries engaged in this collaboration are asking questions Amy raises, like:
- How might the contextual education program at a seminary be enhanced so as to expand this ecology to include community outreach and connection
- What might be added in to affect the seminarian’s vision of “church leadership” or “leading for God’s mission” in a way that allows them to more effectively lead change and do justice?
The seminary webpages listed here share a glimpse of how we are seeking to answer questions like these, as we have conversations together during this period of this 2017 sabbatical grant. Let us know if you think we’re on the right track and share your ideas about how we might more faithfully and effectively answer these and other related questions.