The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows has named the parishes who will make up the second Pathways Learning Cohort. They are St. John’s, Crawfordsville; St. Matthew’s, Indianapolis; and St. Peter’s, Lebanon.
Clergy and lay leaders from these three churches will come together regularly for a year-long leadership development program. It’s a rich and multi-faceted journey, meant to deepen each team’s leadership skills while putting them right to work on increasing the vitality of their respective congregations. Cohort members will attend six workshops and one retreat led by national and local subject-matter experts.
Studies have revealed a direct link between robust church leadership and congregational vitality. The underlying purpose of Pathways to Vitality learning programs is to help churches become, in the words of Canon Kristin White, “more faithful, self-renewing, responsive and sustainable.”
The Pathways curriculum draws upon the latest studies on leadership development and congregational vitality, combining fellowship and personal growth with the core topics of practical business education. The topics addressed include:
- Articulating a common vision for ministry
- Financial management, accounting and parish administrative best practices
- Self-care, life-work balance, time management, communication, relationship building
- Collaborative problem solving
- Project implementation
- Strategies for fundraising
The Rev. Dr. James Lemler, Pathways Chaplain and Moderator, will begin each session with prayer, scripture and reflection. Lemler says the program is rooted in an understanding that teaching, and learning, financial and organizational skills is a spiritual practice. “We ground each learning experience with spiritual reflection to link personal inner work with technical skills,” he says.
The action-based learning experience will prompt participants to flex and grow by creating concrete plans to strengthen their churches, right away. Each leadership team will design and implement a Vitality Project for their church, using the practical skills they are learning.
“Really, it’s as simple as asking ‘What else could we be doing?’ The complicated part is marshalling the social awareness, finances, communications, and management skills to make innovative ministries happen,” says Melissa Hickman, the program’s director. “Pathways to Vitality exists to help smooth the road to success.”
We asked the rectors of each Pathways parish,
“Why is it important to your parish to be involved in the Pathways Parish Program?” Here are their answers.
The Rev. Frank Impicciche. St. Matthew’s, Indianapolis
The Pathways Parish Program is important because we believe it will provide us with a more formal revitalization process and give us the necessary fundamental skills and resources to strength our neighborhood partnerships and involvement in the community in ways that we hope will help carry our efforts forward into the future.
The Rev. Christopher Beasley. St. Peter’s, Lebanon
Through our Care of Creation ministries, we have experienced new ways of connecting with our neighbors. We have developed partnerships with Purdue University and the Indiana Black Farmers Cooperative. With the help of a Center for Congregations Grant Initiative that started in 2016, St. Peter’s launched the Harvest House Community Center in 2018 that teaches youth and adults about gardening, food preparation and food preservation.
We see the Pathways program as being that next step to redefine what it means to be the church in our community.
We like to say that we are “Rooted in the Earth and rooted in our faith.” A senior citizen who has worked with us in our gardens over the last three years, commented that this is a place she “can connect and speak to God.” We see the Pathways program as building upon the assets we already have present to move us into the church of the future.
The Rev. Janet Oller. St. John’s, Crawfordsville
The Pathways program offers us the opportunity to gather with others to learn and to grow.