ATLANTA – The Diocese of Atlanta has received a second $100,000 grant from New York’s Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church to expand its innovative LeadersCARE program for lay leaders in small churches.
The initial 2022 grant, funded development and piloting of the program which focuses on teaching spiritual practices designed to help leaders discern and then enact what God is calling them to do next, said Diocese of Atlanta Canon for Ministry Sally Ulrey.
“We had our initial Train-the-trainer gathering in October of 2022 with the Diocese of Atlanta and the dioceses of East, Central and West Tennessee,” Ulrey said.
The program was designed by Courtney Cowart and Jim Goodman of the Society for the Increase in the Ministry (SIM). The Diocese of Atlanta and SIM are targeting the training at lay leaders at smaller churches, especially those without permanent or full-time clergy, to learn these practices for formation, discernment, and strategic planning and goal setting, Ulrey said.
The program, officially named, “A New Church for a New World: Training Trainers in LeadersCARE for Lay Leadership of Small Churches,” received funding from Trinity Church’s Philanthropies which Chief Philanthropy Officer Beatriz De La Torre said collaborates in mission and ministry with many churches and organizations in the United States and internationally.
“We are delighted to be able to support your work and look forward to hearing of your progress and impact,” La Torre said when announcing the grant extension.
Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright said, “We are grateful for this investment in our work to partner with God in birthing a Church for the future.”
The initial group of trainers have already led formation training for the Diocese of Atlanta worshipping communities as well as at vestry retreats for discernment and planning of their next steps as a church. Similar training has been conducted in the other three participating dioceses.
The new grant will be used to scale up the training in the remaining 17 dioceses of Province IV, Ulrey said. A gathering to train more facilitators is planned at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center near Hendersonville, NC later this year or in early 2024.
“Additionally, we have been exploring how to adapt this training and these practices to online spaces, which will be part of the subsequent grant work,” Ulrey said.
The CARE in LeadersCARE stands for:
C – Create to explore our individual and collective vocations together… discerning what God is calling us to do next
A – Ask self-awakening questions to open ourselves to the truth and to God
R – Reflect theologically to develop ways to embody our calling
E – Enact the Next most faithful steps, as partners and co-creators with God
These practices can also help churches that feel “stuck” to open up to God’s future that has yet to emerge, Ulrey said.
“One reason The Office of Congregational Vitality (OCV) initially pursued this grant and partnership with SIM is because we heard through our Diocesan-wide survey that a top priority for church leaders in the Diocese was to develop a discernment process to rethink how to be vital Episcopal churches. Offering this resource is one way OCV is helping churches discern the future that God is hoping will emerge through them,” Ulrey said.
Ulrey, appointed by Bishop Wright as Canon for Ministry in April after The Rev. Canon C. John Thompson-Quartey was named director of Candler School of Theology’s Episcopal and Anglican Studies Program, said OCV is the doorway to a variety of assistance programs for parishes and other ministries of the Diocese of Atlanta including:
Stewardship Training; Congregational Assessment for church leadership transition or strategic planning;
Vital Teams Training to help vestries and their clergy develop collaborative leadership to conduct the congregation’s purpose and mission;
MapDash, an interactive, data-grounded, map-based tool for missional analysis and planning;
The College for Congregational Development, an intensive two-year program designed for teams of lay and clergy leaders to develop leadership skills and tools for parish growth and health;
Mutual Ministry Review to enable congregational leadership (Lay and Clergy) to reflect on and strengthen their work of ministry; and
The Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) provides grants to worshipping communities to fund their local ministries, specifically to help issues of poverty, hunger, and oppression. ECF also has programs to create sustainability and long-term congregational vitality through planned giving.
Stretching across almost 76 counties in North and Middle Georgia, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is comprised of roughly 50,000 people who follow Jesus in our 117 vibrant and diverse worshiping communities. The Diocese’s mission statement is: We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately, and grow spiritually. Want to know more or get involved? Find a church or visit our diocesan website.