SAN DESTIN, FL – What does it take for men and women to govern the Church and take their leadership from vision to reality? How do you find the support you need as rector of a church, when often there is no one but the bishop to support the vision and the struggles faced while moving forward in ministry? The Rector’s Summit for Vision and Planning (RSVP) is a conference that exists to answer these questions and connect Anglican rectors from around the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and other Anglican bodies for mutual support, edification, and training.

From December 2 – 5, 2019, the American Anglican Council (AAC) partnered with Leaderworks to lead a Rector’s Summit for Vision and Planning (RSVP) with a focus on preaching. About thirty rectors attended and heard from various Anglican ministers with experience in leading large parishes. To introduce the summit, the Rev. David Roseberry, President of Leaderworks, spoke on the unique call of being a rector, and he was followed by the AAC’s Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, who spoke on the nature of a preacher, not only in gifting but in character. Other lectures followed throughout all four days on various aspects of preaching, from how to stick a landing and keeping people’s attention, both sessions by the Rev. Kevin Miller, “The Art of Gospel Speech” by the Rev. Ethan Magness, and “Letting yourself Go while Preaching” by the Rev. Al Zadig, a trustee of the AAC and rector of St. Michael’s Church in Charleston. The teachings were coupled with small group discussions and activities that brought the practical aspects of each session home through personal application. The rectors shared meals together, had personal time to pray and take in the scenery, and engaged in fellowship with each another. The Summit ended with a service of Holy Eucharist.

These four days of teaching, worship, and fellowship provided life-giving encouragement. A rector’s life is almost always engaged in the concerns of his or her parish, with little time to connect with other rectors across North America who might be experiencing the same struggles on the same journey. Many rectors use skills learned at the beginning of their ministry without an opportunity for further development, to refresh their toolbox and invest in continuing education. RSVP conferences, whatever the specific topic, help bring solutions to these two needs for mutual support and personal growth. One attendee at this latest RSVP wrote these words in a summary statement:

“As preachers, we can get stuck in a rut. It is so easy to keep doing the same thing over and over again. RSVP gave me a fresh perspective on the art and craft of biblical preaching. It was immensely informative and helpful, with a lot of practical tools and tips. More importantly, it gave a fresh perspective on the core call of the preacher. It was also helpful to build lasting connections with other rectors across the ACNA. I am leaving RSVP with a community of fellow rectors that I know I can call on for advice, godly counsel, and support. Serving as a rector can feel isolating at times, but RSVP showed me that I am not alone.”

RSVP is sponsored jointly by the AAC and Leaderworks and is currently led by the Rev. David Roseberry and Canon Phil Ashey. Each four day summit centers around a different skill that rectors can engage with and discuss. Each conference also includes fellowship, worship, and rest. The AAC facilitates the creation of clergy covenant groups for personal spiritual support that continues after each RSVP is over.

An advisory group led by AAC trustee and rector, the Rev. Al Zadig, will be planning future rector summits. To stay up to date on the next RSVP and see how you can get involved, visit the website: https://www.rectorssummit.com

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