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Voices of Courage in Faith: Their Words and Ours

What Our Participants Say

lake-crossOn Nourishing Vocation

“This has been one way of sustaining myself and my soul in a ministry to which I have felt called but have always found taxing.”

“The ability to create safe space to do the internal work needed for real restoration is unlike anything else out there right now. Especially for young clergy.”

“This is the only program I’ve taken where the content has STAYED with me, at a very deep level.”

“This is the most life-giving thing I have ever done other than giving birth to my children.”

“I know the components: a great retreat space, natural beauty, intentional and deep leaders, symbolism, music, art, circles, balance between time to think and time to share, flow and shared purpose; and yet it still felt like magic…My soul expanded.”

“The courage I’ve gained from this past year’s retreats to live my life in tune with who I am encourages those whom I serve to give themselves permission to do the same.”

13553297865_faf3d1771e_bOn Transforming Leadership

“I described my first encounter with Circles of Trust as the best experience of church I had ever had. It prompted me to want to become as skilled as possible so that I could bring that experience of church to my people and my community. When the soul of an individual is strengthened, so is the soul of the church and the community.”

“It all begins with me. Nothing I want to happen in my congregation will happen unless it is happening in me. And I do not mean because of me, but because I have done the hard work of listening and then singing the sound of the genuine.”

“I was able to ‘be myself again’ and I believe that my being centered helped the congregation.

“This has impacted my work as a pastor. I am now more willing to be fully authentic with my congregation, which feels like a healthier way to be in ministry.”

“I’m so grateful for this experience at this point in my ministry. I know it has been critical to my sanity this year. If we are to raise up a new generation of clergy willing to meet the problems of the new church, we must have leaders who can have opportunities for retreat and introspection.”

hands-in-circleOn Sparking Collaboration

“The support that I get from other colleagues working together in the program has been very powerful and has probably saved my ministry.”

“I appreciated the chance to gather with colleagues who are doing the same kind of work and who ‘get it.’ We didn’t need to posture or impress each other. We simply came to embark on our journey’s together.”

“We did faith work together, in healthy ways, and bore witness to the incredible growth we did together. This was truly an experience of a lifetime.”

What Our Facilitators Say

Mardi TindalMardi Tindal, Former Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Toronto, ON:  “It was Circles of Trust that sustained me after I was elected to the role of spiritual leader for our denomination. I soon learned about the loneliness that comes of serving as a lightening rod for others’ deepest hopes and fears. Companions in this work kept me from being driven off course, helping me remember my own gifts, limitations and call.”

boardofdirectors_stephen-lewisStephen Lewis, President of the Fund for Theological Exploration, Atlanta, GA:  “I hear all the time from clergy, “I’m just trying to be faithful.” Well, I think we can be more faithful. We can learn a set of practices that help us draw on our inner well. To me, if you’re going to train pastors in anything it should be that. If congregations are trying to build the priesthood of all believers, what the Center is doing is core to that work and I don’t see anybody else doing it to that extent.”

Winton BoydWint Boyd, United Church of Christ Pastor, Madison, WI:  “My commitment to the local church has been enhanced as I learned to listen to the powerful rhythm of God’s Spirit in my heart more, rather than depending on external voices or emerging church renewal ‘gurus.'”

David DodgeDavid Dodge, Former Asst. to the Bishop, Florida UMC Conference, Tampa, FL:  “In our last annual conference we had some divisive issues come forward that had the potential of doing a lot of damage. Many of the clergy leaders who spoke on these issues had come through the Courage & Renewal process and were some of the people who contributed to a better outcome. Even when the vote didn’t go as they would like, they could stay present and engaged.”

Erin LaneErin Lane, Writer and Lay Leader, Durham, NC:  “This work has allowed me to see a third way of being in Christian community that doesn’t require belonging without question or questioning without belonging but invites a lifetime of faithful wrestling.”

kathryn_mcelveenKathryn McElveen, United Methodist Coach and Pastor, Travelers Rest, SC:  “One of the greatest potential outcomes I’ve seen is the impact of Courage & Renewal work on the culture of distrust that infuses my denomination’s organizational structure and deeply impedes our best efforts at vital and transformative ministry in our local communities and in the larger world.”

anthony-sanduskyAnthony Sandusky, Baptist Pastor and Activist, New York, NY:  “Perhaps the greatest impact I have witnessed in this approach is its ability to transcend the world’s complex way of creating division in order to arrive at the heart of the human spirit.”

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