St Marks National Theological Centre

Blog update #2 from Beatrice Robinson recipient

Monday April 20 2015 by Katherine

Tracey Matthews - Beatrice Robinson Study Tour 2015
St Mark's student Tracey Matthews was awarded a Beatrice Robinson Scholarship to do a month-long study tour looking at various approaches to training, formation and deployment of missional leaders. Each week in the next month Ms Matthews will blog about her travels. Her previous blog post can be read here.    

Week 2 (ending 18 April)
I left Dallas feeling so hopeful and inspired by the new friends I have made and how they are working to be people of justice and peace.  My visits this week to Chapel Hill (North Carolina) and Boston (Massachusetts) were equally encouraging.
 
The purpose of my trip to Chapel Hill was to learn more about Johnson Service Corps  (JSC) in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.  JSC is part of the Episcopal Service Corps  network, where young adults are participating in servant leadership programs across the United States through intentional communities. I spent time with the Executive Director of JSC - Sarah Campbell, to learn more about their program and to meet with their current community.   The primary goal of JSC is to offer transformative opportunities for young-adult servant leaders aged 21-29, to discern their vocation and pursue a life-long journey of community engagement sustained by spiritual practice. This is achieved through a servant leadership curriculum, implementation of a praxis project, working in a social justice organisation, training in spiritual formation and practice, and living with others in intentional community shaped by a rule of life.  
 
The highlight of my time in Chapel Hill, was a dinner with all eight members of the JSC intentional community in their home.  This amazing group of young people shared their personal stories and experiences of living together in community; which gave me real insight into how the program shapes the character and leadership capacity of these young people.  Each individual had particular skills and experience; and the program was allowing them to strengthen and develop their gifts through practical service and formative training.  I felt so blessed to meet these emerging leaders who have such a clear sense of themselves and their relationship to others.
 
My next stop was Boston, where I learned about the work of Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) and Life Together Community in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.   Again the theme was spiritual formation and practicing justice. 
 
LDI works with local communities of faith to develop teams aimed at social justice, reconciliation and transformation. It does this by training teams in the practices of contemplative prayer, collaborative leadership and community organising. The key leadership practices taught through their  flagship program are: public narrative (telling stories to move others to join in collective action), relationship building (making mutual commitments around shared values and interests), team building (building stable, motivated and accountable teams with a common purpose), strategy (creating clear plans for turning resources into action) and action (designing events that achieve measurable goals, expand resources, and develop leadership capacity).  This action-reflection model of leadership training helps teams to develop a local social justice project with a focus on star teams, rather than star players.
 
Life Together is also part of the Episcopal Service Corps network and seeks to nurture young adult servant leaders aged 21-28.  This is achieved through a 10-month program of leadership training, social justice work, spiritual formation, and intentional community living.  During this time fellows learn real-world skills like contemplative practices, time management and personal organisation, movement-building, community organising, strategic thinking, conflict management, and team-building.  The curriculum focuses on developing the skills, practices, knowledge, and dispositions related to both interior and exterior leadership, for both personal and social transformation.  Life Together and Johnson Service Corps are wonderful examples of how the next generation of leaders are being empowered to play their part in God’s work in the world today.
 
I have learned so much this past week about team building, servant leadership and spiritual formation. It’s hard to sum up my experience in a few words, but a couple of things stand out: leadership development, character building, and spiritual formation are ultimately learnt through experience and the practice of community. Jesus taught his disciples this way; and there is much to be learnt from communities who are drawing on traditional practices of spiritual formation in fresh new ways.  
 
ENDS