peer learning groups

The importance of peer support

By Laura Stephens-Reed

Recently a member of one of CBF’s peer learning group reached out to his fellow members to share his appreciation for community that PLG offers. Below is an excerpt from that email, shared with permission.

Hi my peer learning group friends! How are you doing?

I miss you. I miss your laughter. I miss your voice. I miss your wisdom.

Most weekdays, since the last Friday of February, I pack my lunch and carry it to work in a blue plastic CBF Peer Learning bag. I think of each of you, each time I pack it up, empty it out at lunch and put it back up in our kitchen cabinet.  

For the last 10 weeks I’ve been the only person in the lunch room – I guess the only person on the fourth floor in our big building. I leave my lunch bag on the table and try to recall all the times we’ve shared a meal together through the years. Don’t think there has been a meal without a smile.

It’s been too long since I told each of you how grateful I am for your friendship. Not sure how I would’ve made it through, and out of, the last ditch without you. Thank you, thank you.

I don’t know all the ways God works in this old world or in our lives. I do know that YOU were, and are, one of the ways God’s love found me there, and finds me even now.

I’m settling into my new role at a desk in a place where everyone but two other people work from home and will probably until January. Odd to see no one as I walk the top three floors of our building. It’s not challenging work but it’s steady. When I pull the office door closed at the end of the day the work stays on my desk instead of following me home. That’s new and weird. I guess I’m going to have to get a hobby?

I withdrew my name from [church name] search. I’d made it to their short list down to video interviews (because of CV-19). It felt good to have the validation of the search team but I’m not sure how many of us were on the list. Mostly, I withdrew because I want to be a great dad more than a senior pastor. [My wife] and I only have six more years with [our children] before they go to university. Since they were born I’ve felt this terrible tug between home and church. Often feeling like I wasn’t giving either my best. I’m sure I’ve whined to you about that tension more than once. My heart aches a bit, letting go. I’ll be in my 60s when the girls graduate. Not likely a church will hire me then so, I a real way, I’m letting go of church, letting go of my calling. That still aches a bit.  

Getting some distance from the decision is helping, like all grief.  

Well, that’s the news from here.

Please let me know how you’re doing.

PEACE my dear friends.

This email is illustrative of the vital support that many ministers receive from their peer learning groups, which are clusters of five or more clergy who gather regularly (virtually or in person) for professional development and support. If you are a minister who would like to connect with or form a PLG, please go click through here or email here for more information.

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