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Iona Collaborative Awarded Reflective Practices Grant for Thriving in Ministry Program

In 2022, the Iona Collaborative at Seminary of the Southwest was awarded a Reflective Practices for Project Sustainability Grant from Leadership Education, an initiative of Duke Divinity School funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. This grant provided the Iona staff the opportunity to reflect on the Thriving in Ministry (TIM) program, an initiative that supports new or recently ordained bi-vocational priests and deacons serving in pastoral settings across the country.

The Rev. Nandra Perry, Director of the Iona Collaborative, briefs Southwest colleagues on the findings of the Iona retreat.

The Reflective Practices for Project Sustainability Grant  encourages Thriving in Ministry project leaders and their teams to take a broad view of the project, participants, partners and host institution. Accordingly, these leaders are at a pivotal moment for stepping back and reflecting on what has been accomplished and learned, what is changing, and what is stable in their projects and context. The grant allows leaders and teams to broaden their perspectives and gain clarity about what needs to happen next. These grants of $15,000 support an opportunity for structured reflection for leaders of Christian organizations that are advancing their mission in the midst of today’s rapidly changing context.

In November 2022, the Iona Collaborative team went away for four days on a retreat in the Texas Hill Country outside Austin to take some “balcony time.” “We are grateful for the opportunity this grant has provided the Iona Collaborative so that our team may spend time together to create a common vision for the future of our Thriving in Ministry program,” says Rebecca Hall, Iona Collaborative Project Director.  “We hope that our team will come away with an integrative vision and with a language for sharing that vision with our constituency in compelling ways that are exciting and accessible within our broader church culture.” 

In addition to reflecting on the TIM program, the Iona staff also widened the scope to vision for the wider Iona Collaborative organization.  They spent time dreaming about where its various projects would be in five years and how the TIM program would fit into the whole. 

As part of the grant, Iona held a reception in January with leadership from Seminary of the Southwest to report on the findings. This gathering became an opportunity to build community and collaborative support with valued colleagues at the seminary. 

Leadership Education is a non-degree-granting initiative of Duke Divinity School funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and based in Durham, N.C. Leadership Education aims to create lasting change in U.S. congregations by supporting Christian leaders and the institutions they serve. They design educational services, develop intellectual resources, and facilitate networks of institutions that cultivate a coherent vision of Christian institutional leadership and form Christian leaders.

“The Reflective Practices for Project Sustainability Grant at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity recognizes and supports the faithful and innovative work of lay and ordained Christian leaders who find themselves at a pivotal moment in their ministry project,” said Mycal Brickhouse, Managing Director of Grants at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. “Using Harvard professor Ron Heifetz’s language, we want to help leaders experience balcony time, which allows them to move from the dance floor to the balcony to gain a broader picture of the work, organization, community and trends.”

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