Where can clergy go to experience times of extended worship (that they are not leading!), receive prayer for challenges and healing, and fellowship with others in a beautiful, relaxing atmosphere? Twenty-four clergy who are members of the American Anglican Council’s (AAC) clergy care groups shared these blessings from October 18-20 at the Epworth by the Sea retreat and conference center on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.
Bishop Thad Barnum, Bishop Terrell Glenn, and Canon Phil Ashey led plenary sessions focusing on five questions from scripture. These questions challenged attendees to focus on their relationship with God (Who do you say that I am? Matt 16:15), their experiences of humility (Where are you? Gen 3), their own soul care (What are you doing here? I Kings 19:9, 13; What do you want me to do for you? Mark 10:51), and their relationships with their families and communities (What sort of people ought you to be? II Peter 3:11). The Rev. Geoff Chapman concluded the time by expounding on Jesus’ call to feed the sheep entrusted to their care (John 21:15-17).
Each session began with extended worship led by Dwight Huthwaite of St. Andrews Anglican, Mt. Pleasant and was followed by small group time for engaging the topic through prayer for one another. Prayer ministry was also available at multiple points throughout the retreat while extended personal time and fellowship around meals rounded out the retreat experience.
The AAC believes that this type of care for our leaders is essential to their personal health and well-being in addition to that of the congregations they lead. The Daniel Leadership Institute promotes clergy care groups that provide this care weekly through small group meetings of four to six clergy. These groups meet over Zoom or in person for an hour and a half each week to engage a curriculum around growth in Christlikeness and personal soul care, prayer, encouragement, and accountability. There are currently 150 ACNA clergy meeting in 32 clergy care groups throughout the province. The Daniel Leadership Institute also hosts care groups for clergy spouses and those experiencing sexual addiction and their spouses.
It is our goal to see as many ACNA clergy and their spouses engaged in care groups as possible. We will be launching more groups in January 2023 and will begin the orientation process shortly. If you or someone you know is interested in a clergy or spouse care groups, please visit our webpage at Clergy Care Groups – American Anglican Council. To join a group, please email Bev Mueffelmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.