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A Look Back at 2018

Over the past year, at the Center for Congregational Health, we have experienced many changes, some that were natural and easy and some that were unanticipated and arduous. Les Robinson, frequently says that congregations are in a state of continuous change. We see this clearly in relation to congregations dealing with pastoral transitions, however, we all are always in a state of continuous change.  Bill Pasmore, of the Center for Creative Leadership says,

"Change is multifaceted, complex, and continuous. What seems to be a single change is anything but — it is a complex change that competes for time, attention, and resources with other changes that are already underway, and those changes yet to be conceived…Every day, you face complex, continuous change, which is defined, as a series of overlapping, never-ending,planned, and unplanned changes that are interdependent, difficult to execute, and either cannot — or should not — be ignored." (https://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/continuous-change-white-paper.pdf [ccl.org])

A most significant change for us happened in June when our long-time colleague, friend, and provider of oversight for all things having to do with Interim Ministry, Dr. Les Robinson, was officially retired and ended his 23 years of service and leadership with the Center for Congregational Health.

Over the past six months we have worked to continue to offer assistance to congregations in transition as well as to find partners to continue to provide training for intentional interim ministers.  (You can read more about what will be happening in 2019 in the next blog post.)

In the midst of this change we have continued to be invited by congregations to facilitate custom designed processes for:  dreaming into the future, seeking healthy ways to manage challenges and conflict, discerning if it is time for a congregation to close, working through the in-between times and transition to calling a new pastor. We have continued to offer coaching for clergy, faith groups, staff teams and our denominational partners.  We have continued to offer training events for church leaders, consultants, coaches and workshops for denominational and clergy gatherings.

Also, this year we developed a closer working relationship with the School of Divinity at Wake Forest University and together applied for a Lily Foundation’s Thriving in Ministry grant.  The WFU School of Divinity received the nearly $1 million grant that will greatly impact our work over the next 5 years.

2018 was a year that offered challenge and celebration and we are excited to continue to offer assistance and resources for congregations, clergy and judicatories in the coming year.

Posted in: Coaching, Congregations, Consulting, Interim Ministry

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Celebrations and Changes

The Center for Congregational Health is in its 25th year!  The Center has been working with congregations, clergy and lay leaders since November of 1992.  As we move through the remainder of this year, we celebrate 25 years of partnering with congregations and leaders to help your churches make a difference in your communities.  Thank you for 25 years of serving together, we look forward to the many ways we may continue to work together.

For 21 of those 25 years, the Rev. Dr. B. Leslie Robinson, Jr. has worked full-time with the Center as Manager of Interim Ministry Resources, with a period of time as acting director.  During that time, Les has worked with several hundred congregations, training more than 2500 interim ministers representing 27 denominations, traveling to 33 states and 2 foreign countries. We are grateful for Les’ leadership and ministry and the amazing work that he has done throughout the years.

We all knew the day would come when Les would want a bit more freedom from the 40+ hour work week and that day has come!  There is good news to go along with it—Les may be scaling back and thinking about his time a bit differently, however he will continue to work with the Center for Congregational Health providing oversight and curriculum development for the Intentional Interim Ministry Training program and for the Association of Intentional Interim Ministers.  We are delighted and honored that Les is choosing to continue the very important work for which he is very well known, and that he will continue to journey with us.

In honor of Les and the work he has done with the Center for Congregational Health, we have worked with the NC Baptist Foundation who manages the Poe Fund, to establish a line item of financial donation where the funds will be used to assist congregations who desire to use the services of the Center for Congregational Health and do not have the funds to do so, we invite and encourage you to offer a financial gift to the Poe Fund in honor of Dr. B. Leslie Robinson, Jr and the work he has accomplished in living out his calling.   When sending a donation, please designate for the “Les Robinson Fund”.  Donations may be mailed to:  the Center for Congregational Health, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157.

Posted in: Consulting, Future, History, Interim Ministry, Leadership, Uncategorized

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Lenten Journey–Pray and Reflect

By Beth Kennett

Over the past few weeks, I have been in settings that have been preparing me for my Lenten journey—teaching a class on Ministry Leadership and Coaching Skills, participating in a Coach Training Program, working alongside of a congregational renewal process, helping a church think about the next pastor, and preparing for a workshop on Vital Mergers. Each of these places and processes has a strong component of prayer and discernment. My reminder and realization is that when we take the time to reflect, pray, and seek God’s direction we are much more likely to discover it—God’s direction, that is.

For individuals, taking the time to pause, meditate, and to be in touch with our authentic selves, helps us to determine the healthiest paths on which to journey; helps us to discover and discern where God is inviting and leading us. For congregations it is the same! Congregations must take the time to simply be together, to pray, to reflect, to seek where God is inviting and leading. In the busy-ness (and possibly the business) of congregational life, we often forget to be seekers, we forget to be faithful people on a journey of discovery and we fall into the habit of being church.

Congregations considering change—whether it is a merge, a renewal process, new leadership, or a new model of doing work—must do so through a process of discernment, a process of prayer, reflection and conversation. Healthy change does not happen overnight. Healthy change happens when we are faithful to our Creator and to who we are created to be.

As you engage your Lenten journey—as an individual and as a faith community—take the time to be in touch with who you are, create and honor the space to pray and reflect on being authentically who God is inviting you to be.

Posted in: Congregations, Leadership

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