By Rev. Theresa “Rivka” Gevurtz, MDiv. and Rev. Adrienne Waterman, MDiv.
On behalf of The ChI Interfaith Community Council
For 20 years, ChI has cultivated a community of interfaith clergy and spiritual directors who are pioneering the nascent interspiritual shift happening in the world. Our ChI clergy community has grown substantially over the past two decades and now numbers in the hundreds.
What does it mean to be in community now? What does it mean to be the ecclesiastical endorsing body for ChI clergy? What does the community need now? What are we called to? What can we imagine creating for ourselves, now that there are hundreds of us across the U.S. and beyond?
Appointed two years ago, the ChI Community Council has discerned that for the next step in our collective journey, the Council should be more representative of our diverse ChI community. We are excited and grateful that the ChI Board has given us a green light to hold an election.
What will be the work of an elected Council? First and foremost, we intend to move forward to create a robust container of peer-based support for those who are doing the work of interfaith ministry. As we learn from one another’s successes and challenges, we will evolve as a learning community that supports each other’s ongoing formation in ministry.
Second, “the Community” has been a loose concept. How do we define “community”? This word has had a lot of hats hung on it: seminarians, graduates of the Interfaith Studies program, clergy, spiritual directors, volunteers and stakeholders. As the endorsing body for our clergy in their professions, it is critically important for the ChI Interfaith Community to articulate more clearly its identity and purpose.
Third, the new Council will look at what it means to be in community with one another. Are we a set of intersecting communities, like a Venn diagram? Is a different term better than another, such as commonwealth or interspiritual sangha? How do we distinguish the ordaining body of ChI clergy from the larger body of ChI friends and stakeholders? How can we be community with one another in an interspiritual way?
Let us move forward to envision how our collective can best grow to meet the needs of its members. Defining more precisely what the community is and what it needs will help us to understand more clearly who and what we are in service to.
From last fall’s survey through conversations this year with members, it is clear that there is a great thirst to engage with one another in meaningful ways that grow not only our sense of community, but also our skills as clergy. Creating a container that beautifully supports our community’s interconnections and mutual learning cannot be the sole responsibility of our overburdened seminary staff. It will require us all working in collaboration, deploying skillful means and learning as we go.
One thing has become clear to us. Our community of clergy and spiritual directors has matured and grown. We are leaders of a movement toward a new paradigm of spirit. Elected Council members and the Community Minister cannot manifest these visions without empowered leadership and the participation of us all.
Special note to ChI Clergy and Spiritual Direction alumni:
You will soon receive a survey which will invite you to nominate yourself or someone else to the ChI Community Council. You’ll also be invited into a new level of engagement, so that together we can manifest beloved ChI Community. We look forward to co-creating with you.