May 25, 2010

Strength for the Journey

I spent last Friday and Saturday in a downtown hotel with more than a hundred other people from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. We were attending a program sponsored by the CREDO Institute called “Strength for the Journey” (SFTJ). The purpose of the program was explained in a recent ENS story:
A CREDO news release said that in the wake of the departure of the four diocesan bishops and other church leaders to non-geographic Anglican jurisdictions over the past few years, “a new mix of diocesan leaders both lay and ordained, some experienced, others in new positions, has picked up the mantle of leadership.”

The goal of the two-day CREDO conferences is not only to provide respite from a long journey still underway, it is also to make space for spiritual renewal and celebration of diocesan life and ministry, the release said.
According to ENS, the conference presented in Pittsburgh will be repeated in the dioceses of San Joaquin and Quincy in June and in Fort Worth in September.

Speaker Glen E. Kreiner, Ph.D., from Penn State

Like most participants, both clergy and lay, my understanding of what I had signed up for was vague. Now that it is over, I am still evaluating the usefulness of the event and trying to make sense of the many handouts I received.

Irrespective of how “useful” I ultimately find SFTJ to have been, I am grateful to The Episcopal Church for recognizing the stresses on the people in “reorganizing” dioceses and for its willingness to invest in trying to ameliorate the burdens those loyal Episcopalians have taken on. We who carried the standard of The Episcopal Church during the dark days of the Bob Duncan episcopate did not always feel supported, appreciated, or even heard by our church.

I’m sure I am not alone in saying that I felt well taken care of. SFTJ was offered at no cost. Meals, hotel room, and valet parking were also free. Drinks and snacks were always available. Upon arrival, each participant was given a name tag, canvas tote bag, water bottle, folder with program materials, pencil, and a notebook and pen. Everything was branded with the green SFTJ logo. More handouts and giveaways were to follow. The mechanics of the conference were handled very professionally by the CREDO people and the hotel staff. The food was excellent.

Talks focused on, among other topics, our difficult journey as a diocese, on Episcopal identity, on what we might learn from the experience of others with natural disasters, and on spiritual resources that could provide us with strength for our work ahead. Lectures were supplemented with video, worship, a bit of fun and recreation, and small-group discussions.

My purpose here is neither to describe fully nor to evaluate SFTJ. Instead, I want to make others in the church aware of what their church is doing for those of us who have experienced schism in our dioceses. I also want to express our gratitude for that effort and encourage our brothers and sisters in the dioceses of San Joaquin, Quincy, and Fort Worth to take advantage of the opportunity that the church is offering.

Update, 5/26/2010: In the Diocese of Pittsburgh electronic newsletter that I received today, the lead story is about SFTJ. You can read it and view the associated pictures here.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful fellowship experience...I imagine being in the company of positive people at Church is a heck of a lot better and more assuring than listening to non-stop complaints about TEC leadership and the sinful nature of OTHER human beings.

    Good for TEC and thanks for telling us about your CREDO weekend...¨Strength for the Journey¨ doubt about it.


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