New Church Leadership Institute refuels think tank of new, revitalizing churches
Written by Jeff Woodard
August 31, 2010

Susan Mitchell

The Rev. Carol Vaccariello clearly appreciated the validation she received in sharing her perspective at the New Church Leadership Institute 2010 conference Aug. 9-13 in Decatur, Ga.

“Not one person looked at me as if I were crazy,” says Vaccariello, ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and an advocate of creating a bridge among Western, Eastern and indigenous spiritual traditions.  

“The Institute provides a safe, energized think tank and the experiential opportunities that can easily be transported home,” says Vaccariello. “Since I pastor both a revitalizing church and mentor a new church start, there is always more to learn.” 

The event was presented by the UCC-supported Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR) and focused on the "seven secrets" of vital, progressive, transformational church leadership. 

“We are re-imagining the church; this is not just for new-church leaders," says the Rev. Cameron Trimble, the center’s CEO and executive director who has led the event the past three years.

Vaccariello says she was heartened to learn that the new church start she mentors is not the only contemplative gathering around – and she’s already anticipating next year’s meeting. “Thanks to Cameron and (the Rev.) Michael Piazza and the whole team that made this the powerful experience that it was,” says Vaccariello. “I look forward to more.”

The seven secrets, as presented at the conference, are defined as: 1) assets - beginning where you are; 2) vision – seeing where you are going; 3) mission – turning the church inside out; 4) communication – from identity formation to market saturation; 5) connection – creating transformational community; 6) "adMinistryation" – managing for mission; and 7) transformational worship – the heartbeat of a vital and vibrant church. 

Attendees recited a conference-concluding covenant that reads: “I have answered the call of God to strengthen and build up the progressive and inclusive Church in America. I will join the effort to reclaim Christianity as a faith of extravagant grace, radical inclusion, relentless compassion and fierce peace and justice.” 

The covenant includes a vow for those committed to do so to partner with the CPR in praying for the renewal of the Progressive Church; raising voices as witnesses for the inclusive Church; contributing energy and resources to the work of renewal; and continuing to learn and grow as church leaders. 

Keynote speakers represented the UCC, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Episcopal Church, the Alliance of Baptists and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Among them were Doug Pagitt, "a major speaker, mover and thinker," says Trimble. Pagitt is founder of Solomon's Porch, a holistic mission-based Christian community in Minneapolis.  

Other speakers included the Rev. Yvette Flunder, senior pastor of City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco; the Stephen L. Sterner, executive minister for the UCC's Local Church Ministries; Doug Pagett, author and founder of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, Minn,; the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, UCC communication director; the Rev. Dwight D. Andrews, senior minister of First Congregational UCC in Atlanta; the Rev. Da Vita D. McCallister of the UCC's Connecticut Conference; and Lisa DePaz, the CPR's director of Hispanic ministry.  

The date for the 2011 conference is Aug. 2-5; the site has not yet been determined. 

For more information, visit the Center for Progressive Renewal.

 

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