What is “Rector’s Continuing Education,” and why does it matter?
One line in our annual budget is labeled “Rector Continuing Education.” It’s a small amount – $400 in 2023 (compared to $1000 in 2019) – but you might wonder what those funds are for.
That budget line covers registration fees and expenses like travel, accommodation, and study resources when I participate in a learning opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills as a priest and pastor.
Here are some of my recent Continuing Ed opportunities:
The Forma Conference (online), January 2023
The Forma Conference is for those involved in Christian education and formation ministries in the Episcopal Church and beyond. It’s an amazing opportunity to gather ideas and resources. I listened in on some online sessions of this year’s conference. My biggest take-away was learning about the organization Doing Good Together and their amazing website; their work inspired our spring Kindness and Creation Care Fairs.
The Gathering (in person), May 2023
The Gathering is a group of GenX and Millennial clergy who gather for real, honest, and difficult but hopeful conversations about the challenges and opportunities for the Episcopal Church in this season – and about how we can help the Church move into the future well. This Gathering had been delayed since 2020, and my registration costs were paid then. The church helped cover my airfare this year.
Pastoring for Justice and Healing in a Climate Crisis (in person), May 2023
This free event was hosted locally at Holy Wisdom Monastery. I came away with lots of ideas for building our “Green Team” and weaving climate care into our life together, as well as some new local and regional ecumenical connections.
Contemplative Clergy Renewal program (in person), starting July 2023
I will be attending an 8-day immersion at Holy Wisdom Monastery as part of a cohort of 18 ecumenical pastors participating in contemplative renewal. The Monastery describes the program as “the beginning of a yearlong process focused on the well-being of pastors, especially supporting them in their own spiritual renewal.”
This program is also free. We will need to pay supply clergy for the Sundays I am away, though. I will also attend two additional immersions in January and June of 2024.
Smaller opportunities (online)
I keep an eye out for interesting online short courses, trainings, and talks (such as a recent talk on Ho-Chunk history). Some are free; some involve a modest registration fee.
Something I’d like to do:
Music that Makes Community, Albuquerque, NM, October 2023
Something I’d really like to do is go to a Music that Makes Community gathering this fall. I’ve found those retreats joyful and renewing in the past, and it would also be an opportunity to spend time with a colleague and friend who has been a mentor for me with respect to engaging young children in worship. While I’d like to attend, I’m mindful we’re already over budget on this line for the year.
Why does the church pay for this kind of thing?
Just as your employer may pay for your professional development opportunities, churches also budget for continuing education for clergy. These experiences and opportunities benefit St. Dunstan’s both directly and indirectly. They provide me with resources, ideas, tools, and connections that enrich our life together as a faith community and help us live into our mission more fully. They also provide me with refreshment, encouragement, sustaining colleague relationships, and new approaches that bring me back to my ministry here with fresh energy.
Why is it over budget all the time?
We scaled back this budget line during the pandemic because most events were online and we didn’t have to accommodate travel. Due to budget constraints, we haven’t yet returned the budget to a level that can cover much travel. In addition, plane tickets are more expensive than they used to be, which makes it easier to go over budget if I travel at all.
We’re really fortunate this year to have two significant opportunities close by that are fully funded. That’s pretty unusual and special!
This sounds great; can non-clergy do any of this stuff?
Yes, some of these opportunities – like Forma, climate care events, and Music that Makes Community gatherings – are absolutely open to lay people, too! (Two of our members, Elvice McAlpine and Mary Ann Fraley, took a class on the Doctrine of Discovery recently in order to bring back some new understandings to the parish.) We even have a modest fund to help lay members of the parish access opportunities like this.
If you have capacity and interest in doing some learning or skill-building in any area related to church, mission, or spirituality, talk with me and we can explore resources and opportunities that might be a good fit!
Warmly, Rev. Miranda+