Thresholds in Leadership will support clergy members in first two years of ministry

By Canon Lisa Senuta

When I said “yes” to Bishop Cathleen to return to the diocese of Kansas, it was because the position she wanted me to embody was in part to support clergy. It is fixed in the title, Canon for Spiritual Life and Clergy Care. As she proposed the position I thought, “Wow, what a gift for the clergy to have someone extra on staff to cheer, support, encourage, listen, and care for them.” 

I know all too well the support clergy need in their roles. While serving in the diocese of Chicago, I had an anxiety melt down 18 months into a new call as Rector. Sitting in the hospital room with my 5-year-old daughter, I vividly recall feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do or where to go. Established in my contract with the diocese and parish; I had to participate in a peer group. Fast forward, a week after my meltdown, I fell into the chair with colleagues around me. With my face buried I admitted what I was going through. One by one they each shared with great tenderness similar experiences. 

Like all professional roles, deacons, priests, and bishops need support to remain healthy spiritual leaders. They hold such important roles as they stand on the thresholds of sacred institutions leading communities and ministries into the uncertain future.    

The newest collaboration with Bishop Cathleen and Canon Patrick will re-establish what was once called Fresh Start or Clergy Conversations. This program is for clergy who are in the first two years as newly ordained or in a new call. 

We call it Thresholds in Leadership, and it will:

  • Create spiritual community among clergy
  • Offer leadership plenaries that focus on core challenges for parishes and clergy and engage the group in supportive interactions
  • Utilize the strong leaders in our diocese to participate in the program in a variety of ways
  • Orient the new clergy to diocesan structures, ministries, and procedures
  • Create collegial relationship with their bishop, canons, and diocesan staff
  • Help new clergy enjoy the Cathedral and Bethany House and Gardens as holy space

Recognizing that the clergy community in the Diocese of Kansas has become diverse, including a growing number of bi-vocational and part-time clergy, who join full-time priests and volunteer deacons, the way that we meet had to be creative. So, Clergy will meet both in person and on zoom, sometimes in one large group and sometimes in cohorts of clergy in similar ministries. 

Over the years the need and value of clergy care has remained the same. Clergy need each other. There is no one else who can truly understand the place they stand than each other. In this new missional day of the church, I pray Thresholds in Leadership will energize the future God intends for the Diocese of Kansas.

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