REFRESH: Operation Rejuvenation for Conference Clergy
A new opportunity known as REFRESH is being sculpted, by the TAC Center for Clergy Excellence, to provide pastors with a regular dose of recognition, reflection, resourcing, and rejoicing by which they can continue to grow in transformational leadership.
There’s a new clergy-empowering initiative called REFRESH coming to town and Rev. Guy Williams, pastor of FUMC Atlanta, believes other pastors will welcome it with open arms. “Rolling out at our Annual Conference in May, REFRESH is a project from the Center for Clergy Excellence that will honor and support our clergy by providing an opportunity to step back and reflect,” he explains. “The first visible aspect will be celebration as the Conference recognizes a significant anniversary of designated pastor's ordination. It will be a natural time to mark the moment with thanksgiving for what God has done in them and through them. And it's a time to consider their development over the next few years.”
As the chair of Clergy Development and Spiritual Formation, Rev. Williams has provided input as REFRESH has taken shape over the last several months. Adds Guy, “We know that a balanced diet for pastoral development will include building specific knowledge and skills, growing relationally, good attention to Christian formation holistically, and strengthening clergypersons' capacities to tackle new challenges. REFRESH provides an ideal opportunity to step back and assess how God is leading us to grow and flourish as clergy, leading to more challenging, fruitful, and rewarding ministry.”
Participants and Process
According to Rev. Gail Ford Smith, Director of the TAC Center for Clergy Excellence, this initiative is uniquely inclusive of anyone at any stage of ministry service as there are no age or experience-related criteria. “Clergy celebrating a milestone anniversary of ordination or continuous appointment in the Texas Annual Conference will be invited in the spring to participate in a 9-month process of personal and professional assessment and development,” Gail explains. “The Center for Clergy Excellence will recognize all milestone anniversaries in our Annual Conference Report and clergy will be asked to stand as names are read. Additionally, the Bishop will issue a formal proclamation to congregations where these clergy are serving, so that they may be recognized in that setting.”
Conference leaders are eager to remind clergy and laity that the date chosen for special recognition is the date of ordination in full connection with TAC. “We recognize many have served in ministry before they came into full connection with the Texas Annual Conference,” she adds, “but this date is our common starting point for special recognition of all ordained clergy who are celebrating a milestone anniversary (every 5 years), as well as those Full Time Local Pastors who are celebrating a milestone anniversary of continuous appointment in the Texas Annual Conference. That means that those who are not celebrating a milestone year in 2013 will have the opportunity to participate in a forthcoming year.”
The Center for Clergy Excellence will hold its inaugural REFRESH-inspired recognition at Annual Conference during the 2:30 pm session Monday by celebrating nearly 100 honorees.
Renewal, Resourcing and Rejoicing
This new addition to the whole menu of programs designed to build clergy leadership strengths and morale will feature additional opportunities for retreats that offer time to reflect in groups and as individuals. “REFRESH will ideally offer retreats that allow individuals and groups to reflect on what we have been about, how far we have come and reevaluate what we need next as leaders,” notes Gail. “Among best practices we have studied in other conferences, we are looking at ways to offer personal and ministry assessments and facilitate coaches and development grants in addition to a special time of meaningful prayer and recommitment to our calling.”
“I look forward to hearing excitement in the voices of our clergy who have enjoyed this process and feel equipped with helpful tools to grow in transformational leadership,” says Bishop Janice Huie. “I fully expect REFRESH will inspire a sense of rich renewal in personal and spiritual formation that will spill over into our local congregations.