Fund for Theological Education (FTE), and he began telling us about the exciting work that FTE has done in developing what it calls VocationCARE.

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Awakening Courage

By: Steve Knight
September 26, 2011

I almost got stuck in a snow storm in Indianapolis back in February. On my last day in town, with my flight home cancelled because of ice, I found myself at an impromptu lunch meeting with Rev. Stephen Lewis. At the time, Rev. Lewis was serving as Vice President of Program for the Fund for Theological Education (FTE), and he began telling us about the exciting work that FTE has done in developing what it calls VocationCARE. As Rev. Lewis described how they developed VocationCARE, incorporating the brilliant leadership insights of Otto Scharmer and the spirituality of education activist Parker Palmer, I was impressed and excited to see how we might be able to incorporate what FTE has created into the overall offering we’ve been organizing for Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation. That chance meeting with Rev. Lewis led to an opportunity in April to go through the VocationCARE training with my Hope Partnership colleagues and to experience the transformative work of:

C - creating space to discuss Christian vocation together;

A - asking self-awakening questions together;

R - reflecting theologically on self and community; and

E - enacting the next faithful step

I’ve since learned that VocationCARE is just one of the amazing things that FTE does as an organization. They also provide fellowships for gifted seminary, undergrad, and graduate students, as well as other programs and initiatives to support young leaders.

One of the exciting opportunities coming up is the Calling Congregations conference, October 6-8, which has taken on the theme of “Awaken the Courage to C.A.R.E.” Parker Palmer, the founder and senior partner in the Center for Courage & Renewal, will be the keynote speaker.

I’ve noticed this theme of courage keeps coming up over and over again. We noticed it pretty early on in the development of Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation, as well, and it made it into our purpose statement, which reads: “Hope Partnership’s purpose is to empower courageous leaders as they guide the Church into life-giving expressions of ministry for this new era of God’s mission.”

There’s something about this tumultuous time we are living in today, with great change happening all around us and especially in our churches, that requires a unique kind of courage. And it requires leaders who have courage to lead, making difficult decisions and forging a path where there seems to be no way at present.

I’m grateful for leaders like Palmer and Rev. Lewis and for organizations like FTE that are leading the way. The future of the Church requires courageous leaders, and we need gatherings like the Calling Congregations conference to awaken that courage of conviction inside each of us.

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks—we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.” —Parker Palmer

Watch the VocationCARE video from FTE to find out more!

Tags...: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud

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