General CBF

Why I love being a Peer Learning Group Regional Director

By Laura Stephens-Reed

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Laura Stephens-Reed

Though it hardly seems like it, I have been resourcing, supporting, starting and helping connect clergy to peer learning groups as a PLG Regional Director for almost seven years.

I initially signed on because I knew in my bones that PLGs foster health in ministers, and by extension, their ministry settings. Clergy and congregational health was (and is) my passion. I also recognized that the job would give me a way to engage more deeply with CBF. CBF was (and is) my home.

The gifts of this position have extended far beyond what I initially understood. I have gotten to know clergy across my region that I might not have on my own. I have the privilege of learning about their individual ministries and their work together. I have found out about – and shared with others – excellent resources and approaches to difficult topics they’ve utilized. I have been able to take advantage of outstanding continuing education events and participate in processes across CBF life that I would not have had entrée to otherwise.

One of the biggest perks of my work as a PLG Regional Director is getting to collaborate with a team of people who share a passion for clergy well-being. Steve Graham, Layne Smith, Fran Patterson, Ruth Perkins Lee, Betsy Young, and I talk monthly to celebrate PLG highlights and pick the others’ brains about issues that have arisen. Annually we meet at the CBF Global offices for 24 hours of intensive work around starting and strengthening PLGs. The 2017 gathering was last week, and here are some of the things I’m most excited about following our time together:

  • Your PLG regional directors will be crafting a starter kit for new groups. This resource will provide a framework for conveners who are not sure how to get their PLGs off the ground.
  • We will be providing information about the typical life cycle of a PLG and markers of a group’s well-being at each stage.
  • For those groups that have run their course, we will offer tips on how to end the PLG well.
  • The list of books and articles that PLG staff have been curating will be grown and categorized.
  • The PLG website will be revamped so that links to essential forms and information will be easier to find.
  • PLG staff has identified outlets for raising the profile of peer learning groups so that others know the good work conveners are doing and so that more ministers will be able to locate the support and professional development they seek.
  • We will be letting you know about more events of interest to PLG conveners and members, and we will be tagging more PLG-specific gatherings onto other goings-on.

I hope some of these initiatives speak to you as much as they do the PLG staff. Please feel free to contact us with questions, to start a new group, or to connect with an existing one.

One more note: save the date for the PLG breakfast at this year’s General Assembly in Atlanta. Brian McLaren will keynote the event at 7:30 am on June 29.

Laura Stephens-Reed is Peer Learning Group Regional Director for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. She also coaches clergywomen under age 45.

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