Each gathering participant registers for a pathway focused on a specific topic. Pathways are led by a leader with an expertise in their content area. Coaches accompany each pathway as participants unpack what they are learning and move towards application in their particular context.

Pathways will meet for five sessions over the course of the gathering. Session 4 (Wednesday afternoon) is an expanded block of time to experience the topic “on the ground” – either by getting off-site or an experiential opportunity.

There are six great pathways. Which path will you take?

Community Organizing: Practices that Can Impact our Congregations and Communities

“I’ve done service projects. I’ve even gone to a protest. Now what?”

This question, from a teenager in one of our churches, speaks to the options we often limit ourselves to when we think of church people “making a difference.” Community organizing can expand our imagination as to what is possible. The practices of organizing emphasize long-term community and relationship, realistic power analysis, as well as strategic, collective action that can have impact both within our congregations and in our broader community.

Through community organizing, people can come together and move together toward a horizon of liberation and justice where all life can flourish.

Over the course of the week, we will learn and practice in real-time several of the practices of organizing, which can be approached as spiritual practices. We will do so through the lens of “Sacred Organizing,” a spin on traditional faith-based organizing coming out of a group of practitioners in the Pacific Northwest navigating a post-Christendom context.

This pathway will include intentional focus to contextualize your learnings for your specific communities. We will also have an off-site experience with organizers in the area.

This pathway is accessible both for those who are newcomers to organizing as well as for those who are familiar with organizing practices but want to learn from a variation of the traditional model in our particular context that is tuned toward what is sacred about our relational power to build a world as Spirit would lead us toward.

Chris Dela Cruz

Pathway Leader

Brett Pinder

Coach

PATHWAY SESSIONS

Session 1: Sacred Organizing Cycle and Sacred Encounter

Chris and Brett will share the cycle of Sacred Organizing (a spin on faith-based organizing from a group of practitioners in the Pacific Northwest), and introduce the first set of spiritual practices for organizing under the category of Sacred Encounter. Learn practices of 1:1s and house meetings.

Session 2: Sacred Unveiling

From the stories, lived experience and passions (self-interest) that gets shared in the Sacred Encounter moments of 1:1s and house meetings, we can begin to discern and unveil the issues that Spirit is calling us to in this moment. Chris and Brett will facilitate practices for this discernment and for Sacred Unveiling.

Session 3: Sacred Action

From Sacred Encounter to Sacred Unveiling, we will have gathered a coalition of partners who are passionate about the things that Spirit will not let us let go of. In this session, Chris and Brett will introduce moving into Sacred Action with the power of communal action.

Session 4: Practitioners in the Field

Head off site to the NoVa / DC vicinity to hear from faith-based-organizers who have been working on the ground with grass roots organizing practices leading churches to “make change.” Chris and Brett will facilitate evaluation of the experience in light of the Sacred Organizing process.

*Please note this session will travel off-site using Uber/Lyft. There will be an additional shared cost for the Uber/Lyft ride both directions.

Session 5: Sacred Pause and First(Next) Steps

Chris and Brett will facilitate practices of evaluation and pause. Evaluation helps to shape and inform our cyclical processes of organizing toward impactful action, deeper listening and more equitable practices. Sacred Pause or Sabbath is vital to our own practices for nurturing our human spirits in the hard-fought and long-term work for the world as God would dream it. Additionally, we will reflect on the learnings from our four days together and will plot 90-day plans for implementing first/next steps.

Change Theory and Design Thinking

How do we lead congregational or faith-rooted organizational change and ancestor-informed and descendant-inspired transformation? Futuring a religious institution and community grounded in our faith is a necessary skill for all religious leaders, and we hope to walk away with a resource to lead our communities through this change.

During the workshops we will engage two key areas related to change theory and design thinking that will be tools leaders can take back to their community:

1) Change theory and communal design. Leveraging research in design thinking and change management, Patrick will share a model design thinking that begins and ends with the spiritual community. The model has been used in churches, faith-rooted non-profits, theological education, and higher education.

2) The need for grounded spiritual leadership in times of change. Patrick will preview some of the Leadership resources and practices available at Auburn Theological Seminary that support leaders to be good ancestors, who lead change with descendants in mind.

Participants will walk away with real tools for change management, and ancestral and spiritually-rooted practices to lead that change.

Patrick Reyes

Pathway Leader

Chip Low

Coach

PATHWAY SESSIONS

Session 1: Preparing the Ground for Change

This session will focus on how leaders prepare themselves and their communities for change? We will explore practical spiritual and religious practices grounded in ancestral tradition that will prepare the community for change.

Session 2: Change Theory and Communal Design

During this session, participants will be introduced to and engage in a practice of community centered design. The model comes straight from Reyes’s book, The Purpose Gap.

Session 3: Taking Communal Design Home

What are some common challenges and pitfalls of the communal design model? During this session, participants will work with their map and explore challenges and opportunities to communal design practices.

Session 4: Futuring Communal Design

What spiritual and religious leaders often miss in their training as prophetic leaders (change-makers) is the understanding and ability to future the community. Guided by the work of our ancestors in the first session and drawing on the communal design model, this session will work with the change model to include descendants in the design.

*Leaders will start together in the session space and will experience a futuring simulation. 

Session 5: Becoming a Good Ancestor

The final workshop will explore ancestral design. The workshop will not only provide practices for helping spiritual and religious leaders become good ancestors, but equip them to form future good ancestors. This is the heart of Christian ministry.

Community Partnership: How Listening to Our Neighbors’ Stories Can Disrupt and Recreate Ours

Congregations can get stuck in the stories they tell about themselves. Moved to find a new way of being church, Arlington Presbyterian Church embarked on conversations with people right outside their doors. Inspired by the stories of their neighbors, who struggled to connect within the community and to find affordable housing, APC developed a new three-pronged vision – to create affordable housing, to be a place of crossroads and connection and to nurture disciples of Jesus Christ. APC was called to sell its building and land to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to build Gilliam Place, a 173-unit affordable housing apartment community on the site of their previous building.

In this pathway we will both hear APC’s story and listen to each other’s church stories. What drives us to hold onto a particular story? What values do our stories represent? How might others’ stories disrupt the way things have always been and open our congregations to new community partnerships? What new stories might we imagine? And what first step might we take toward a recreated narrative of who and what the church can be?

Ashley Goff

Pathway Leader

Martha Spong

Coach

PATHWAY SESSIONS

Session 1: Listening to Stories

Pastor Ashley Goff will share the story of APC’s process, and how they listened to their neighbors. What is the story being told in your congregation?

Session 2: Core Values

Ashley will share the core values APC adopted, used to evaluate all their decision-making, especially with their wealth, money, and possessions. What are the operative core values, named or unnamed, of your congregations?

Session 3: Disruption

The stories APC learned by listening to its neighbors disrupted the way they understood themselves and the church’s place in their community. What needs to be disrupted in you/your congregation?

Session 4: Imagining a New Way of Being 

We will go on a field trip to APC’s location at Gilliam Place, tour the space, and engage in the exercise of our imaginations. What might be possible for your congregation?

*Please note this session will travel off-site to Arlington Presbyterian Church using Uber/Lyft. There will be an additional shared cost for the approximate 15 min Uber/Lyft ride both directions.

Session 5: Next Steps

We will reflect on insights gained over the past two days. What is one measurable action you can take when you get home?

Session 1: Listening to Stories

Pastor Ashley Goff will share the story of Arlington Presbyterian Church’s (APC) process, and how they listened to their neighbors. What is the story being told in your congregation?

Session 2: Core Values

Ashley will share the core values APC adopted, used to evaluate all their decision-making, especially with their wealth, money, and possessions. What are the operative core values, named or unnamed, of your congregations?

Session 3: Disruption

The stories APC learned by listening to its neighbors disrupted the way they understood themselves and the church’s place in their community. What needs to be disrupted in you/your congregation?

Session 4: Imagining a New Way of Being

Participants will go on a field trip to APC’s location at Gilliam Place, tour the space, and engage in the exercise of our imaginations. What might be possible for your congregation?

*Please note this session will travel off-site to Arlington Presbyterian Church using Uber/Lyft. There will be an additional shared cost for the approximate 15 min Uber/Lyft ride both directions.

Session 5: Next Steps

The group will reflect on insights gained over the past two days. What is one measurable action you can take when you get home?

The Question of Identity: A Pathway for People of Color

This pathway is for People of Color only.

People of color move, live, and breathe in different ways when we are in a room together. Yet the mere existence of such places and moments cannot solely be for lamenting. It is critically important that People of Color in white denominations do the internal work to uncover the ways we have been conditioned to uphold the exact systems we are attempting to dismantle. Such interrogation will allow us to create healthy, liberatory coalitions with individuals and communities of color to disrupt the structures around us.

Jessica Vazquez Torres

Pathway Leader

Larissa Kwong Abazia

Coach

PATHWAY SESSIONS

Session 1: Conditioned for What?

We begin our journey in the embedded world around us. Race, racial construction, and racial identity are foundational for our individual and collective work as people of faith. We will frame these and explore their impact as a lens through which we narrate our own lives and the world around us.

Session 2: I am What?

Gathering in storytelling circles, we will deeply listen to and engage within our own narratives as well as begin shared aspects of our individual racial journeys.

Session 3: So What?

We will move toward these questions together: What are we beginning to understand? Where do our paths converge? Where do they diverge?

Session 4: In What?

We will pause to dig into these questions together: How does history, individual and communal, come together? How do we envision the past and present in order to dream of a future together? What does liberatory coalition building look like?

This session will include an on-site experiential project.

Session 5: Now What?

We will walk together as we ask: What actions are required of People of Color to move toward new ways of be-ing? How can we be conspirators in and of the beloved kin-dom? What are the values which move us toward liberation in a Christian context?

Liberating God’s Word – A Faithful Reimagining of the Preaching Moment

This track will help preachers think deeply about the work of decolonizing worship. Participants will take a journey through the various ways that preaching has evolved through the generations and be invited into its ongoing evolution through the cultivation of imaginative engagement with scripture.

The goal of this track is to help preachers access the scriptures anew for the purpose of proclaiming a liberating Word for today that builds up the community and restores wholeness

Paul Roberts

Pathway Leader

LeAnn Hodges

Coach

PATHWAY SESSIONS

Session 1: What might worship be for such a time as this? 

This session will summarize the current landscape of church life in the United States, and encourage participants to dream about ways preachers and worship leaders can ‘do a new thing’ with integrity in worship.

Session 2: Rethinking the Preaching Moment

Many church scholars claim that the Word of God is able to stand on its own—even without the occurrence of preaching as it currently is practiced. This session will explore the art, practice and power of interpretive Bible reading in the public sphere.

Session 3: Reformed and Always Reforming

This session will invite participants into a playful exploration of the evolution of the sermon as a way to engage our imaginations around what the preaching moment could be.

Session 4: The Word Proclaimed

How does the context in which the Word is proclaimed affect how it is experienced? In this session, participants will travel to the National Mall, a space rich in history and symbolic of excessive power. In that space, we will engage with biblical passages that are intended to liberate, and we will reflect on the impact the physical context has on how we receive the Word.

*Please note this session will travel off-site using Uber/Lyft. There will be an additional shared cost for the Uber/Lyft ride both directions. There will be some amount of walking required, but accommodations can be made upon request.

Session 5: Integrating Practices

Participants will be coached through the creation of an individual action plan that will support the implementation of their learnings with the intent of moving the preaching moment toward liberative practice.

La Iglesia Solidaria

Invisible threads connect the whole creation. When one of them moves, all are affected. For millennia, we have ignored these threads, especially those that connect us as humans. Intersectionality is a way to make these threads more visible and, using this lens, we are not only weaving social justice but the flourishing of all creation, God’s shalom.

In this track, we will explore the many ways in which we are all connected as well as practical ways in which our communities of faith can address intersectionality in our teaching, worship, proclamation, community, and service.

So, why “iglesia solidaria” and not an English equivalent? Because the word solidarity only exists as a noun, a passive word, in the English language, but not as an adjective, a way of being. This track is for those interested in moving from solidarity to being solidarios.

Claudia Aguilar Rubalcava

Pathway Leader

Jesy Littlejohn

Coach

Shani McIlwain

Coach

PATHWAY SESSIONS

Session 1: Intersectionality: The Threads That Connect Us All

What is intersectionality? What are the threads that connect us all and why does this matter to the church? In this session, Jesy, Shani, and Claudia will introduce the fundamentals and history of intersectionality and explore the ways in which the church has contributed to build up and/or dismantle systems that keep us apart.

Session 2: The Curriculum of la Iglesia Solidaria

Maria Harris, in her book Fashion Me a People, outlines how curriculum (explicit, implicit or null) is taught in the church’s proclamation, teaching, worship/liturgy, service, and community. In this session, we will explore how the church addresses intersectionality in her curriculum or reinforces the ethos of separation.

Session 3: La Iglesia Solidaria Advocates

In this brief session, we will focus on effective ways to advocate for the people and causes the church cares about.

Session 4: La Iglesia Solidaria Embraces

How is intersectionality lived out in different communities? How do we do this work when we don’t know where to start? In this session, we will analyze worship patterns of different communities and find ways to modify the music, language, and imagery so that they do the work of breaking artificial silos so that we can see and embrace the intersection of God’s people.

This session will remain onsite for this extended worship project.

Session 5:La Iglesia Solidaria Lives

Being la iglesia solidaria is hard work. Dismantling systems of oppression is exhausting work. But building God’s shalom cannot be done without joy. How can we cultivate sustainable solidarity? What are the individual and communal practices that bring joy to our lives? In this session, we will explore how that plays out as we integrate the learnings from this pathway.

Questions about the gathering? Contact Jen James.