The 2015 Clergy Retreat

04.23.15 | by Kimberly Durnan

    The 2015 Clergy Retreat united more than 100 bishops, priests and deacons in prayer, communion and fun during a three-day gathering.

    The Rev. Dr. Jo Bailey Wells, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury served as keynote speaker during the event and even moved some participants to tears during a lesson on Ephesians.

    Wells told the crowd that Ephesians is about God doing extraordinary things beyond what we can ask or imagine. “Everyone is here today with a willingness to have their imaginations fed or stretched,” she said.

    Wells also encouraged everyone to take time during their days together to develop new relationships instead of hanging out with their usual clicks in order to “grow in the love of Christ.

    In addition to lectures by Wells, clergy also got to meet and question the four candidates vying for the role as the next bishop of the diocese. The candidates as a group took turns fielding pre-selected questions, and then answered questions separately in break-out sessions. Afterward, the clergy got to mingle with the candidates during a brief social mixer.

    “The conference presented them in a way that allowed the clergy to get to know them,” The Rev. Craig Reed said. “The search committee was committed in this work, along with the Holy Spirit to guide us. That work continued in this retreat, and kept open the idea that this is not a political decision but is instead fostering the work of the Holy Spirit to discern our next bishop.”

    Clergy also met casually in small groups for meals, photo opportunities, walks, skeet shooting and just hanging out.

    “I particularly benefitted from spending a relaxed time with clergy that I previously never had the opportunity to speak with in the past,” The Rev. Michael Gilton said. “I’m grateful to Bishop Lambert for causing us to get together and spend time with one another.”

    Bishop Suffragan Paul Lambert said it was time for clergy to spend time with one another on days other than convention. He hopes to make it an annual event.

    “We are called to divine work, and hopefully we will be able to continue these conversations and collegial efforts,” he said. “We have to be intentional about our collegiality because when we get together it’s a good thing.”

    The Rev. Rebecca Tankersley, who helped organize the event, agreed that diocesan clergy should get together annually. “Our conference was a tremendous success,” she said. “It was clear our clergy had been longing for an opportunity to connect with one another and this event provided just what they needed.”