Part reunion, part review, and part taster: Forty-two participants and seven trainers packed a lot into Refresher Day 2014, January 18th at St. Laurence, Coquitlam. Evaluations of the Diocesan School for Leadership—the Diocese of New Westminster’s week-long leadership development program—showed that participants valued both the content of the program and the opportunity to spend time with people from across the diocese. So school trainers decided to develop a one-day workshop that would allow returning participants and school graduates the opportunity to refresh their skills and dig more deeply into some of the material, all while enjoying each other’s company again. In addition, the day would allow people who are curious about the school the opportunity to sample the material and the format before deciding to dive into the deep end and apply for the week long program this coming summer, July 13 through July 19 at the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre in South Surrey.
The workshop followed a typical “day in the life of Leadership School.” We opened with Morning Prayer, which included collective reflection on the day’s gospel reading and prayers from the Week for Christian Unity. From there we moved into a plenary session which included reviewing key concepts (what is congregational development? How are organizations like icebergs?) before moving to the main model for the day, William Bridges’ Change, Transition and its Stages.But what is a day in the life of Leadership School without flipcharts, markers and small groups? So we rapidly moved into small groups to apply the model to a case study. Discussions were lively as participants took the concepts of ending, the neutral zone, and the new beginning and applied them to the various characters in the case study. Several participants were pretty sure that the case was based on their own parish (it wasn’t, really—we made it up!), which confirmed for the trainers just how widely applicable this material is. Following the analysis of the case, trainers took time with each group to reflect on the group process: Did they accomplish their task? Did the materials help the discussion? Could everyone participate? Skilled attention to these elements makes collective work, such as we do all the time in committees, more effective and life-giving.
Lunch gave people time to compare notes and get reacquainted before the afternoon program. The “tasters” learned more about the School for Leadership and another model (affectionately known as “the hairball”), while returning students worked in groups to fine-tune possible parish projects. The afternoon session wrapped up with everyone gathering for a quick real-time evaluation, which revealed that overall, participants were very satisfied with the workshop. The last act of the day was to gather in the church for Evening Prayer.
In addition to having heard good things about the Leadership School, the Rev. Heidi Brear attended to support one of her parishioners who is new to the Anglican Church. “I was excited to bring someone with me, and to see what it was about.” Attending with a relative newcomer, Heidi observed that we make a lot of assumptions about what people already know. One takeaway from the day? “It is great for parishes to get together to learn, and it is important that it be a group from the parish.”You can find out more about the Diocesan School for Leadership or Register Now by clicking the link.
Images: Top and homepage, Diocesan School for Leadership Trainer and Synod Staffer, Tasha Carrothers with her small group including the Reverend Heidi Brear in session in the narthex of St. Laurence’s, Coquitlam. Below, a breakout group under the watchful eye of Diocesan School for Leadership Instructor and Incumbent of St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale, the Reverend Jeremy Clark-King gather in a corner of the spacious St. Laurence Parish Hall.