General CBF

Online peer learning groups offer more than “virtual” support

Did you know CBF supports peer learning groups that meet by phone or internet? Maybe you have a cohort of seminary classmates you want to continue meeting with after graduation for learning and encouragement. Or maybe you have to cast a geographically-wide net to find other clergy who share your theology, your ministry responsibilities, or your particular study interest. Whatever the reason, it’s important to CBF that you find your group of colleagues – no matter where they live – to enrich your professional development and prevent isolation.

Peer learning groups that meet via technology are urged to gather in person at least once per year. Rev. Carrie Veal, minister of children and community life at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, shares how her group makes this happen:

When our Peer Learning Group formed mid-2016, we quickly realized how valuable and important an in-person meeting would be. We all committed to gathering after ChurchWorks in 2017. It was an amazing time together of bonding and learning. 

This year we continued the tradition. It was a little more of a commitment since ChurchWorks was in Texas and we are mostly on the east coast. But we knew that most of us would be there and our retreat time was a priority for us. 

Tagging our retreat to ChurchWorks this year and last meant we had a strong foundation for conversation. We were able to dig a little deeper into the topics as they relate to us as individuals and our congregations. Combining these two events made the week feel complete for our group. It was a life-giving and life-changing time together. 

Using ChurchWorks as a springboard for the face-to-face gathering not only gives this peer learning group built-in fodder for discussion, it also helps group members make the most of their continuing education budgets and PLG funding. The location and scheduling also allowed the group to bring in a local practitioner for added learning this year, as an invitation was extended to Traci Smith, a Presbyterian pastor in San Antonio who authored and speaks on Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home.

Don’t let geography be a barrier to finding your group of ministry peers with whom you can develop essential relationships! CBF PLG staff will help you make connections with like-minded colleagues, point you toward appropriate platforms for your group meetings, suggest pre-existing events that your group can tag an in-person meeting onto, and provide your cohort with up to $500 for relevant expenses. Contact plg@cbf.net for more information.

Rev. Carrie Veal’s peer learning group is convened by Rev. Rebecca Caswell-Speight, minister to families with children at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The members all have ministry with children in their position descriptions.

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