What’s Stirring: The Art of Hosting
John Miller and Melanie Combs, far left, engage with other New England church leaders at Art of Hosting. Photo credit: J. Lytle, Province 1
The Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter is a testing ground for organizing, innovating, and interacting to create new kinds of conversations which serve us better in the complexity of this time in the life of the church. “Art of Hosting was really excellent. Perhaps the best training I have ever participated in for our church,” said Rick Taylor, Diocesan Council member and Province One Representative. “I can see how these methods would really help a group determine how to transform ministry and how you discuss mission.”
Stirrings of the Spirit sponsored four Vermont participants to attend Art of Hosting, led by Tom Brackett, the Missioner for New Church Starts & Missional Initiatives in The Episcopal Church, and offered in the Episcopal Province of New England (Province One) last month.
Melanie Combs and The Rev. John Miller, St. Mark’s/St. Luke’s in Fairhaven; The Rev. Lisa Ransom, priest in the Mad River Valley; and Rick Taylor participated in two days of training. All learned a working practice that focuses on better decision-making, efficient and effective capacity building, and greater ability to quickly respond to opportunity, challenge, and change. Art of Hosting is designed to help facilitators host conversations in congregations and groups which are an “open space held” rather than a managed and directed meeting.
Melanie Combs and John Miller are already planning to host a conversation at St. Mark’s/St. Luke’s, using the World Café method which they learned at Art of Hosting, to further the congregation’s discernment about a new leadership model—that of a Local Ministry Support Team. “We are getting ready for the first of a series of in-the-service learning opportunities, designed to ‘increase the circle,’” said John Miller. “The first one is scheduled this month on a Sunday during worship in lieu of the sermon.”
This was the second year Art of Hosting was offered by Tom Brackett. In 2013, Stirrings of the Spirit sponsored The Rev. Susan Taylor, The Rev. Mary Lindquist, Jimmie Sue Deppe, and Susan Ohlidal, Canon for Ministry Development. “Strengthening leadership in our congregations, forming new partnerships between leaders, and experimenting with new models of church and liturgy are all priorities for Stirrings of the Spirit,” says Susan Ohlidal. “Art of Hosting training offers us practices that hold well the space for encouraging risk-taking and being open to failure and change.”
Photos: Group on left, clockwise top left–Rick Taylor, John Miller, Tom Brackett, Melanie Combs, Lisa Ransom stand with other Art participants from throughout The Episcopal Church in New England. Top, right–Lisa Ransom at a World Cafe table. Bottom, right–altar created by participants. Photo credit: J. Lytle, Province 1