In late September 2020, the Diocese received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to fund a thriving congregations initiative that will engage up to 36 congregations over five years in a journey toward greater vitality called Tending Our Soil.
The application period opened just after convention in January of this year with several open houses and visits with vestries. By mid-April, we received 16 applications and have made invitations to 12 congregations to begin this fall. Using the Vital Signs for Parish Health, we will be working with the four congregations invited to wait to help prepare them to join Tending Our Soil in 2022. If your congregation is interested in participating, please take a look at this promotional flyer or invite the Rev. Jenifer Gamber to give a presentation to your vestry.
One of the central features of Tending Our Soil are professional coaches who will accompany leadership teams from each congregation, helping them identify learnings and make commitments in next steps on the journey. We received a number of applications and have selected four individuals from the diocese who are currently being trained by the Holmes Coaching Group. We will announce the names of participating congregations and their coaches shortly.
Finally, we are making plans for the Tending Our Soil launch on Saturday, September 18 at 9:00 a.m. with Eucharist, Bishop Mariann Budde, presiding, and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, preaching. We are working to make this event accessible to all members of the diocese. More details about this event are forthcoming.
While the Tending Our Soil initiative will focus on participating congregations, it is intended to benefit all congregations. As such, the assets, activities, and courses developed for the initiative will be available to the entire diocese along with the afternoon teaching portion of the quarterly gathering of leaders.
The Rev. Jenifer Gamber
Missioner for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and Program Director for Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations
The Rev. Emily Snowden
Program Coordinator for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations