“Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”

Book of Common Prayer, Baptismal Prayer

                                                                                                                               See photo credits bottom of page 

There are two outcomes we seek:
1) a parish that is well into its own revitalization and development and
2) a significant increase in the skills of the participant 



You are the priest-in-charge of a parish (a vicar, rector, etc.). You want to grow in your own abilities for pastoral oversight and leadership and you want to shape the parish to be a healthier, more faithful expression of the Body of Christ. 

Shaping the Parish is an intensive program of learning from your experience. There is a weekly, and sometimes daily, routine of reflection, sharing, feedback and coaching. That takes place in the period between three week long workshops.


The elements of the program

1. Three workshop sessions
Three over 12 - 14 months. Each session running from Monday at 5:00 pm through Friday 4:00 pm. The schedule is intensive with work sessions every morning, afternoon and evening. 


2. Common Prayer - Common Life
Our work is grounded in the Eucharist and Daily Office, a reflective process and spirit, and a learning community that is both supportive and challenging.


3. A broad direction of revitalization and development
The broad goals for the parish’s renewal are built into the program. They include shaping a parish: in which the daily life and ministry of the baptized is understood and supported; the parish’s effectiveness as community of formation is increased; that grounding in, and expresses an Episcopal/Anglican ethos that draws on the wisdom and practices of Benedictine spirituality.


4. Constant work on developing each parish
That work is done in a context of peer support and staff coaching. Our assumption is that shaping a healthier and more faithful parish involves dozens of interdependent actions and projects. 


In the periods in between workshops there are several ways that process continues. Participants engage a process of e-mail conversation about their work. There are several reflection worksheets that are completed and discussed. 


5. Reading in the field
The readings will be in the fields of pastoral and ascetical theology, organization development and organizational psychology. There will be an emphasis on Benedictine spirituality. 


There are a couple of exams taken that help the participant assess their grasp of core theory. 



There’s a limit of twenty participants. All participants submit an application along with two endorsements.
Our sense is that this might be something that will serve people in dioceses without a parish development training program as well as people wanting advanced work from dioceses with programs. 

More on outcomes

Shaping the Parish creates a support and learning process that:

1) Has short term beneficial results for the parish while also

2) beginning the parish on a long-term pathway for transformation: a more vibrant parish, more deeply grounded in spiritual life that supports the primary task of a parish; and that

3) along the way increases the competency of the participant for emotional and spiritual life and in change theory and methods.

We focus on immediate, tangible improvements while building long-term health.

Program Assessments - Reflection

From early versions of Shaping the Parish 

Reflections on the First Weekend of Shaping the Parish in the Diocese of Washington

Mid point evaluation Washington program

Mid point evaluation of National Shaping the Parish - During national program June 2011

Action-Learning Process document 9-13-11

Reflection - Assessment Weekend Five March 2012




Photo credits for top of page Sacred place, Collection: Flickr; Photographer: Zoran Strajin; Chapel with Font, Collection: Flickr; Photographer: Peter de Rooij; France, Provence, Sainte-Baume Mountain, woman burning candle at Troglodyte Sainte-Marie Madeleine Holy Cave, Collection: Photographer’s Choice RF; Photographer: Sami Sarkis   All Getty Images