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Shining Waters is inviting all ministers to consider forming a Clergy Peer Learning Group. A group can meet in person or it can meet by Zoom. A group can include ministers from other denominations. The common denominator for a peer learning group is 7-8 committed colleagues who want to explore new learning in Deep Spirituality or Bold Discipleship or Daring Justice.

But your group is not just about new learning. It is also about support.

I had a conversation with the Rev. Orville James last week. He told me about his peer learning group that started 20 years ago. It was a group of friends first who intentionally gathered to share time away, share stories from their ministries that were confounding them. Together they talked and laughed each other through all kinds of life events like church conflicts, dry sermon spells, mental health challenges, divorces, celebrations and experiences of new life. They walked with each other through it all, whatever came. These deep life conversations started with an intentional check in, rooted in a covenant of trust.

Orville shared that it was the support of trusted friends that most benefited him. The learning was in the context of a commitment to support each other and share their lives as colleagues.

The research confirms what Orville is saying. In the early 2000’s, a Lilley Foundation Project supported hundreds of Clergy Peer Learning Groups across North America and found that ministers who regularly participated in peer groups felt their personal life was healthier. They also felt they became better ministers. When researchers reached out to the leadership of the minister’s church, lay leaders noticed similar deepened health in their ministers.

Shining Waters made a decision not to put you in a peer learning group. We want you to form your own group, believing that if a group chooses to be together, there will a deeper commitment to those colleagues. But from communications from you in the last few weeks, self selecting a group is proving to be the most difficult part!

Maybe, let’s not think about learning group.

Let’s think about forming a support group of colleagues and let the learning grow out of your commitment to each other.

Reach out to one other ministry colleague with whom you’d like to be with once a month for the next year. Have a conversation and together come up with two other names. Reach out and together come up with 4 more names. Reach out and before you know it, you will have 7 or 8 persons for your group.

Reach out and see.

Go for it.

– Todd McDonald

The due date for registering your group is January 15, 2023. Click here to register your group.

For the Clergy Peer Learning Groups that register, mark your calendar for February 8, 2023, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Lansing United Church (just at highway 401 and Yonge Street) for an orientation and development day for all the members of your peer group. Lunch is provided. The purpose of the day is to give your peer group a great start. Note: for groups that may have trouble getting to Toronto, remote orientation and development is available too.