I have recently participated in a year long Thriving in Ministry initiative through the School of Divinity at Wake Forest University. This initiative was made possible by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The focus of this program is to offer clergy the unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills in conversation with each other and through multiple forms of mentorship.

In the final months of this program, all clergy who participated were offered a series of leadership development events focusing on a specific foundation of thriving. I applied and have been selected to participate in a 10 day trip to Northern Ireland from November 8-19. The focus of this offering is on authenticity. Twenty seven of us will retreat together in this beautiful and historically rich part of the world. Our time is structured to offer reflection and development with clergy from across the US. This is not a vacation; it is time for colleague engagement and feedback and deep focus on personal leadership growth.

Our retreat is led by Irish writer and story activist Gareth Higgins and spiritual director and chaplain Brian Ammons. We will be “journeying both into the physical landscape of Northern Ireland, and into the terrain of our inner lives” as we learn more clearly how to lead with authenticity. In an effort to keep us open hearted and trusting, we have been told very little about our itinerary. We know we will be based in quiet, mostly rural or out-of-town surroundings, and doing lots of walking in beautiful rural terrain.

I thank you for your prayers while I travel and learn, and for your continued support of my ministry, and I’m grateful to Pastor Lacey for approving and supporting this continuing education time of development. I look forward to returning with stories, learnings, and experiences to share with you all.