Thrive Participants Speak

October 16, 2013

Thrive, an exciting two-year learning initiative for clergy and lay leaders, is now accepting applications. Thrive combines experiential learning with reflection and worship to energize church leaders for congregational renewal and vitality. Participants work together with intentionality to focus on strengthening the overall life and health of their congregations. Through Thrive, each congregation has access to a treasury of resources to support them in their growth and vitality.

Recently some clergy who are participating in the 2012-2013 Thrive program reflected on their experiences:

Our participation in Thrive has been a special and important part of my first year at St. Augustine's! It has helped us to flourish, as we ask good questions that lead to essential conversations. I'm deeply grateful to Bishop Lee and to our Diocesan leadership for creating this initiative, and to St. A's parish leaders for their commitment and energy and joy.

--The Rev. Kristin White, St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, Wilmette

Attending Thrive has been like getting a Christmas present every month - and the gifts have been way beyond our expectations! We've been given creative ideas for ministry, ways to make worship come alive, energy boosts for our congregation, support for our leadership, ways to measure our effectiveness, and more. Every gift is a treasure that will help us for years to come, and because of Thrive we are well on the road to thriving ourselves. The Diocesan staff is a blessing for all of us!

--The Rev. Peg Williams, Grace Episcopal Church, Sterling

We are learning a lot from the Thrive staff, but also from each other. At our table recently we were describing our three services, and how it has enabled us to grow but brings challenges as well. A member of the larger suburban church at the table said “Wow, you do three services?! That’s so hospitable!” It made us feel proud to be able to be an example for them, and helped us feel like our struggles are definitely worth it! Encouragement and support from the wider Episcopal community makes a big difference.

--The Rev. Kara Wagner-Sherer, St. John's Episcopal Church, Chicago

The Thrive program encourages and prepares us to think creatively and enthusiastically. Lots of energy is generated and teams are held accountable, so this doesn't just become a time for dreaming with no action. The Diocesan staff that presents the material is well prepared and inspiring. We have reading "homework" but don't dwell on it at the sessions - instead we move on to other things, which keeps us all on our toes. I can't imagine there would be a parish that would not benefit from participating in Thrive!

--The Rev. Pam Hillenbrand, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Rockford

The enthusiasm of the Thrive team is contagious. We have brought back to our congregation this sense of enthusiasm, which has helped us continue to thrive in a survival mode. We've been in litigation over our church building for almost five years now, and the Thrive team has helped us renew our commitment to a welcoming and meaningful Episcopal Church experience with or without a church building. We also have a rejuvenated strength in outreach and inclusiveness becoming our banner we choose to fly under as Episcopalians.
--The Rev. Paula Engelhorn, St. George's Episcopal Church, Macomb

Participation in the Thrive program has been a great experience for those of us from St. John’s who have attended. We come home invigorated, energized and eager to share what we have learned. It has been especially rewarding to build relationships with the participants from the other congregations as we move fully into our reunion with the Diocese of Chicago.

--Tom Stone, St. John's Episcopal Church, Kewanee