This week I am attending the annual conference of the Academy of Parish Clergy.
“The Academy of Parish Clergy is an international organization of clergy serving in faith communities of all sizes and in a variety of locales. Members value honest and affirming dialogue, collegiality and continued enhancement of pastoral skills and competency, all directed towards identifying and addressing the spiritual needs and welfare of their communities, both nearby and globally. Our members seek to give and receive support from their colleagues, both in personal gatherings and through meaningful connections made possible by today’s technological world.”
I became involved with the APC three years ago when I attended my first annual conference. In the academy I have found a wonderful group of colleagues from many different faith backgrounds who have a hart and passion for parish ministry and the support of the clergy.
This year we are fortunate to have Dr. Martin Marty as our speaker. Dr. Marty has been sharing with us insights from his latest book dealing with issues of trust in our culture. This includes trust issues on all levels of life and leadership but specifically he is dealing with trust as it relates to the culture, the church, and the trusst of the clergy and the church.
I had the opportunity to attend a prayer retreat this past week at the Benedictine Abbey in Atchison, Kansas. The original plan was for four colleagues to gather in a spiritual retreat using some of the Abbey’s facilities. But due to the weather the other three friends couldn’t make it. I would have then headed home but the same weather systems that went through the area kept me from heading home. So what started as a group retreat turned into a private retreat. I spent the time studying and attending three times of prayer with the monks at the Abbey.
At first I felt impatient with being pinned down by the weather. But as I attended prayer with the the monks I noticed some things about the wonderful atmosphere of the prayer times. The residents of the monastery keep the same prayer times week after week and year after year. I noticed that though I am sure they’d said the same prayer hundreds of times they prayed with deliberate but intense patience and cadence. They were never in a hurry. The prayer time never dragged but it was never rushed. It was clear that prayer was a deep part of their lives. Those times of prayer and eating meals with the monks this week was a gift from God!
This caused me to think that being snowed in allowed me to learn some things about letting go and letting God be in charge. It also is a good reminder of the value of regular and serious prayer as a focus of our walk with Christ.