“It enhanced my knowledge of how to be a better leader not only in my church, but in my personal life as well…”
“Fostering friendships with others outside my congregation made me fall in love with my own congregation again…”
“…this allowed me to see that the future of the Moravian Church is in good hands and takes away my worries for the future of our denomination…”
These are just a few of the reactions that Southern Province Moravians offered about participating in one of the first two groups of The Moravian Leadership Network (MLN).
MLN, a program of the Board of Cooperative Ministries, joins and strengthens leaders in the Moravian Church, Southern Province through experiential, group-oriented learning. The goal is to broaden and deepen the pool of Moravian leaders—people who will dedicate themselves to accomplishing worthwhile goals with a sense of vision, excitement and common good to create a future of greater possibilities.
Each year, a diverse group of Moravians from various congregations meets four times for meaningful face-to-face sessions. To date, 29 participants from 17 different congregations have completed the program, which includes emphasis on spiritual leadership, personal development, relationship-building, conflict and change management, along with Moravian history, polity/structure and theology. Participants gain ownership of the Moravian Church’s future and make valuable connections with others who will journey there alongside them.
Bringing the group together
During the four sessions, typically held from Friday evening through late Saturday afternoon, program participants meet at different locations around the Province. For example, the past group met at Laurel Ridge, Trinity Moravian in Winston-Salem, Little Church on the Lane in Charlotte and the Summit Retreat Center north of Greensboro.
Each session focuses on different aspects of personal and congregational leadership skills. Participants have an opportunity to better understand their spiritual gifts and what they offer to a congregation; gain insight into leadership styles and conflict resolution; study books about personal and congregational leadership; and build skills for helping their congregations and the church as a whole.
The MLN invites some of the Province’s most dynamic and knowledgeable leaders to work with participants, too. During the most recent MLN program, participants dug into Moravian history and identity with the Rev. Dr. Craig Atwood; learned about spirituality and spiritual gifts from the Rev. Dr. Neil Routh; discussed conflict resolution with the Rev. Margaret Leinbach; gained a greater understanding of how the Provincial Elders’ Conference works from PEC Member Peggy Carter and Bob Hunter, former assistant to the PEC president; discovered a world of mission possibilities with the Bishop Sam Gray; and learned about the Moravian Guidelines for Biblical Interpretation from Bishop Wayne Burkette.
The MLN also offers an opportunity for participants to learn from each other, sharing concerns, insights, best practices and ideas. The most recent group included members from Winston-Salem, Rural Hall, Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh, Georgia, along with an Interprovincial employee from Pennsylvania. Participants work together on group projects that allow them to put their training to use addressing an issue in today’s church.
“What a terrific experience!” said one participant in the 2014 class. “I learned so many things about the Moravian Church, leadership issues and my own leadership style. However, the best part for me was spending time with my sisters and brothers from around the Province.”
The MLN Experience
“The MLN experience was a thought-provoking and hope-filled one that has helped me, personally, to take ownership of the future of the Moravian Church and to connect with others who will journey there alongside me,” said Amy Gardin Linville, Rural Hall Moravian Church, Class of 2014. “It was so refreshing to learn that there are many of us who care about the church, that no one person or congregation is alone. This, coupled with specific leadership training in the context of the Moravian Church, is what makes the MLN a program full of opportunities for our future.”
“We often hear folks say that they are spiritual but not religious,” said Henry Fansler, Unity Moravian Church, Class of 2015. “I see now that I need to be both religious and spiritual. I can listen spiritually. I can give a blessing when a brother or sister most needs one. I have known my major spiritual gift for the music ministry for years. Now I can reach out in ways that I had not considered before our MLN sessions.”
“The Moravian Leadership Network enhanced my understanding of spiritual leadership by creating a path for personal introspection,” said Paula Hall, DCE, King Moravian Church, Class of 2014. “Through examination of spiritual gifts, types and practice, biblical models, basic leadership dynamics, as well as generational differences and Moravian identity, I was able to map a personal course for growth and development. As a Director of Christian Education I will undoubtedly use the knowledge and skills in my professional role, but I am also eager share ideas and concepts with others.”
An invitation to participate
We invite all Southern Province Moravians and interprovincial employees to participate in an upcoming MLN program. The church of the 21st century will fulfill its potential with a dynamic group of leaders who are grounded in their faith, understand congregational life and join together with others to provide the leadership we need to fulfill our mission.
To apply for the next Moravian Leadership Network cohort, visit the MLN page on the BCM website. Complete information about the program, including costs, schedules and other details are available there.
The next MLN group will begin in September 2015 and run through April 2016. Applications for this session should be submitted by August 2, 2015. ■