Clergy Communities of Practice Offer Nurture and Support

Clergy Communities of Practice Offer Nurture and Support


Clergy Communities of Practice Offer On-going Nurture and Support!
By Karen Ziel, Assistant Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership

While attending a recent national gathering of leaders who help to guide Community of Practice Groups for Clergy (COMPASS), I was struck by the relatively deep and wide reach our corner of New England has in the number of groups formed and the number of clergy participating. We have benefitted from Clergy Communities of Practice (or CCoPs for short) for some time now. Owing to the foresight and good work of generous ancestors, the ministry of those on staff in our historic Conferences, the goodness of granting institutions like the Lily Endowment and the creativity and determination of Conference staff and clergy working together; these groups are making an impact!

They help to nurture our clergy leaders in the best and (in this last year especially) through the worst of times. They help support leaders in a community of care and mutual accountability where the very best practices of ministry can be explored. These experiences create bonds and networks beyond the monthly meeting.  The impact is deep and wide and the bonds that form often last long beyond the life-cycle of the group.

These groups were developed using the expertise and guidelines of the Pastoral Excellence Program. Each group is led by a paid, trained facilitator. The PEP manual guides facilitator training and offers a framework on which group facilitation skills are honed and developed. Generally, each group is no fewer than 4-5 clergy leaders in size and no bigger than 8. Each group creates a covenant, has some commonalities among members and meets about 9-10 times throughout a year. Each group comes together by invitation and forms by mutual consent at the outset and each group stays together initially for a three-year period. Participants pay a minimal fee each year.

We currently have groups who gather for interim ministry leaders, for chaplains, for new clergy (in a first call) and for more seasoned clergy leaders in all stages of their careers. While commonalities and identities are not the top criteria, they are one key to group interest and dynamics. Newly retired clergy also find that a group would be of benefit.  

While I celebrate the number of CCoPs in the Southern New England Conference, there are still many clergy leaders who may want this experience. New groups form through the ministry of Conference staff and are incorporated into the work of the new Center for Transformational Leadership.  There are currently only 2 ways to join a group. 1. An existing group may have an opening and through the facilitator, extend an invitation to join the group or 2. new groups will form twice a year in September and January, once the minimum number of potential participants for a new group has been identified.

Karen Ziel coordinates the groups and also consults with the Area Conference Ministry Team for facilitator and participant referrals. Potential participants looking for a group should also reach out and indicate an interest here on our electronic form.  Questions? I invite you to reach out to me, Karen Ziel at or 860-761-7104.


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Karen E. Ziel

Karen works in partnership with the team to guide congregations in self-assessment and discernment, and to provide or suggest effective programs for clergy and lay leadership development.  Contact her to: Connect your congregation with the tools and...

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