Fall 2023 Continuing Education Courses

Registration is now open for Fall 2023 continuing education courses. Please note that several of the courses span two-semesters. 

NEW: This year some of our courses are open to pastoral leaders of any order – priests, deacons and lay leaders. Please see the course descriptions below for details.

NEW: This year our courses do not include a required in-person gathering. Please visit our Iona Collaborative Annual Retreat page for details on our retreat at Camp Allen that will focus on preaching and contemplative creation care.  

You can read more about these changes and others here.

Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry FALL 2023 Course Offerings

Admission is first come, first served, and each course has a maximum number of participants (see individual course descriptions for number)

All applicants will be notified by email regarding their application.

This course is designed for priests or lay congregational leaders in their first year (or so) of leading a congregation. Since no one learns everything in their ministerial training, this cohort will seek to reduce overwhelming feelings often felt by new leaders in charge by providing support and basic ideas for the first year or so of ministry. Participants in this course will learn effective methods of church administration, basics principles in pastoral care, and helpful ideas for liturgy. We will explore together topics in administration, pastoral care and liturgical planning that may include leading an annual meeting, planning for a bishop’s visit, preparing for funerals and weddings, or navigating Sunday worship and coffee-hour.  Specific topics will be identified based on student interest, need and desire. 

Instructor: The Rev. Leyla King

Dates: Thursdays, 5:00-6:00pm Central Time, September 7 – November 9, 2023

Duration: Fall 2023

Eligibility: Any priest, deacon, or lay person administering a parish

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Join colleagues in ministry in recognizing and honing a capacity to provide pastoral care for those entrusted to you. This course will identify and address the basic skills needed for providing competent and caring pastoral care.  This course will focus on building students’ skill sets to help others effectively, ethically, and safely when providing pastoral care. This course is ideal for people preparing for ordination and for those who are leaning into their roles as providers of pastoral care.

Instructor: The Rev. Cindi Brickson, ECMN Southern Region Dean

Dates: Mondays, 7:00-8:15 PM Central Time, September 11 – November 13, 2023

Duration: Fall 2023

Eligibility: Clergy and lay pastoral leaders who regularly provide pastoral care in the parish

Maximum Number of Participants: 8

Developing a sacred circle or compassionate care group has proven a successful strategy for nurturing long-term self-mentoring relationships. This two-semester program is an opportunity to participate in a compassionate care group with other Episcopal clergy. It is expected that the group will develop lasting relationships and will develop the skills to create their own mentoring groups. The group will use readings, writing exercises and spiritual practices to support and encourage a shared spirit of vulnerability and nurture.

Instructor: The Rev. Terry Pierce

Dates: Mondays, 6:00-8:00 PM Central Time, bi-monthly October 2, 2023 – May 13, 2024

Duration: Fall 2023 & Spring 2024 (calendar will be provided upon acceptance to course)

Eligibility: Clergy

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Imagine spending just one hour a week with members of your church in a way that, over time, promotes growth in discipleship and spiritual formation; strengthens relationships despite political, social, and economic differences; and helps everyone become more knowledgeable and agile in their use of scripture. This simple practice, like the one the apostle Paul probably used to build Christian identity and strengthen his small, fledgling churches, will also help you grow spiritually and become a supportive, peer community. Participants will be introduced to the biblical foundations of Paul’s practice; use scripture imaginatively to shape their own acts of faithfulness; and reflect together on how their experiences and insights inform this reasoned process of theological reflection and decision-making.

Instructor: The Rev. John Lewis, D.Phil, Iona Collaborative Theologian in Residence and Co-Director of St. Benedict’s Workshop

Dates: Thursdays, 4:00-5:00 PM Central Time, September 14 – November 16, 2023 (Spring dates TBD)

Duration: Fall 2023 & Spring 2024

Eligibility: Clergy and lay leaders

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

How can those of us in church fellowship look to renew for ourselves that deep green faith sorely needed now both by us and by the earth we inhabit? This long-term, interwoven program in ecotheology and ecospirituality can help you answer that question—first for yourself, by way of preparing you to share this knowledge with others. The course’s ecotheology component aims to find the rationale for earth care rooted in scriptural teachings associated with traditional terms such as salvation, creation, incarnation, God’s reign, and Christ’s transfiguration and resurrection? The course’s ecospirituality component enables you to express these principles in practical terms, through the regular practice of outdoor contemplation.

Instructors: John Gatta, Ph.D., the Rev. Joseph Clavijo, and Mary Foster

Dates: Mondays, 6:30-7:30 PM Central Time, September 11 – November 13, 2023 (Spring dates TBD)

Duration: Fall 2023 & Spring 2024

Eligibility: Clergy and lay leaders

Maximum Number of Participants: 12

This weekly preaching lab will equip participants with practical tools for writing and delivering more effective sermons. Using the Sunday lectionary in tandem with curriculum developed by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation, each session will offer participants opportunities for practice with and peer-feedback on their real-life preaching challenges. This course is ideal for new preachers who are still developing their sermon preparation practice, but experienced preachers seeking community and fresh perspectives are also welcome. 

Instructor: The Rev. Nandra Perry, Ph.D.

Dates: Tuesdays, 4:00-5:30pm Central Time, September 5 – November 14, 2023

Duration: Fall 2023

Eligibility: Clergy and lay pastoral leaders who preach regularly

Maximum number of Participants: 8

For questions about any of these courses, please contact Rebecca Hall, Programs Director, rebecca.hall@ssw.edu.

Our Program is Evolving in Exciting Ways

If you have been in our Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry program before, you will notice some changes this year. As you know, in 2018 we were granted funding for 5 years by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to support pastoral leaders in their first years of ministry. This initial funding period is coming to a close in August 2023. Starting this Fall, we will be transitioning to our long-range vision for this project, supported by additional funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., Trinity Wall Street Church, and the Iona Collaborative. Our goal is to offer Thriving in Bi-Vocational Ministry in perpetuity and to make it more accessible to a wider variety of participants and instructors. To that end, we’ve made a variety of small and larger changes that we think will serve more people more sustainably into the future.  

One Thing is Not Changing: We remain fully committed to building a strong church-wide web of support for bi-vocational ministry by offering pastoral leaders and deacons opportunities to build the peer relationships and ministry skill sets they need to thrive in their callings. 

Change #1: We have expanded our definition of “pastoral leader” to include lay leaders who go through diocesan programs and/or who otherwise take on significant leadership roles in their congregations. Through our experience in our Thriving Congregations program, it has become clear to us that lay leaders do a lot of heavy lifting in bi-vocational churches and need the support and ongoing education as much as clergy. We are so excited about this development and plan to expand our offerings for lay leaders significantly over the years. 

Change #2: Our courses will now offer a variety of structures for you to choose from. Some courses will meet weekly for 10 weeks in a row for one hour per meeting. Some will continue to meet bi-monthly for two hours per meeting.  Some courses will last for one semester. Some will span two semesters. We hope that offering some shorter courses will allow busier people who could not participate in the past to take or teach a course. We are particularly excited that shorter courses also enable Seminary of the Southwest professors to fit into our schedule more easily, and we look forward to their offering periodic courses beginning in Spring 2024.

Change #3: We will no longer require attendance at an in-person gathering connected to a course but will instead offer an optional Iona Collaborative Annual Retreat that will focus on a skill area (such as preaching) as well as be a restful time with other deacons and pastoral leaders. The retreat will continue to be free (content, room and board at Camp Allen). But we will ask participants to cover the cost of their travel. This is a big change, and we know how beneficial the gatherings were to participant bonding and to jump-starting the learning. Programmatically this is more sustainable because many of you were not able to take time away from your busy lives and many vocations to attend a retreat. More of you may be able to participate if this is not a requirement. This change also disperses the financial burden while keeping the cost as low as possible to the participants. 

As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback about our program. Your comments would be most welcome.

These courses are part of the wider Thriving in Ministry Initiative generously funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc., Trinity Wall Street Church, and the Iona Collaborative.