The Mission Institute and Lifelong Learning at EDS: A Brief Overview


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This description of the Mission Institute and Lifelong Learning at EDS is a May 2013 presentation by Dr. Diane D'Souza to the Board of Trustees of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It gives an overview of where these two initiatives stand from the perspective of D'Souza, who directs both.

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  • Thank you for providing this time to give a quick overview of the Mission Institute (MI) and Lifelong Learning (LL) at Episcopal Divinity School (EDS)I will give you a glimpse of my starting place in these jobs, and then look at each initiative separately.I will summarize the work of clarifying the identity & focus of each, give glimpses of some of the currently developing programs, and look forward at some of cutting edges before us.
  • Lifelong learning has its roots in a 2002 Lilly grant for Pastoral Excellence which focused on supporting leadership and ministry in small & rural parishes. Key to those efforts were Fredrica Harris-Thompsett, Chris Carr, Julie Lydell, Liz MaGill, many others…8 years of funding gave us many good products: DVDs, collaboration w/ Living Stones, courses & workshops. Perhaps most importantly, it gave us infrastructure which provided the roots of EDS’s cutting edge Distributive Learning (DL) program.
  • The roots of MI lie in a concern in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (DoM) for advancing the progress of effective urban ministry. Bishop Tom Shaw’s leadership on this led to many conversations, and the expressed need for a training institute to raise up & support transformational leaders. As conversations developed, it intersected with an existing desire for a true collaboration among DoM, EDS, and the Episcopal City Mission. Almost 3 years of work went into bringing this idea into birth this year. Bill Judge was among the many who served on the committees and discussion groups which led to this initiative coming into being.
  • So, thispause for both these institutions has been a gift.It has been a time for me to reflect on past experiences and present strengths.And to do some visioning---the magic of “what if…”
  • Before growing LL, I first had to ask, what is EDS? For to succeed, LL needs to be rooted within the vision and ministry of the well respected institution which is EDS.
  • EDS’s identity is being part of a prophetic voice, a cutting edge in theological education.
  • There is a wonderful video on the website which talks about EDS as an extraordinary place to be….
  • The question I came in with is…
  • Or more specifically…
  • But it’s not just about people needing who we are. It’s also about us doing our own discerning: what are new areas to explore, or new ways of being who we are? What are new ways of living out our understanding of what it means to be spiritual beings having a human experience? Where’s the magic of “what if?” Where is the Spirit calling us?
  • I see Lifelong Learning as an opportunity to strengthen and enlarge the space which is EDS.
  • As I’ve spent time listening & learning, and also reflecting, it has become clear that there are strong guiding values to which we commit in shaping the Lifelong Learning program.
  • More specifically, there are 4 key thrust areas for our programs.Existing EDS courses feed into this. One plan is to grow enrollment among non-degree seekers who can really benefit from our excellent teachers: whether it’s taking the Foundations course, or Suzanne’s “Voice, Identity & Leadership”, Fredrica’s “Preaching Liberation”, Patrick’s “Contemporary Christologies”, Joan’s “Womanist Ethics & Theologies” or so many others.But there are also new programs: Ministerial Entrepreneurship, the spiritual renewal of making art, Spirituality and Money, multi-faith offerings, mother-tongue programs, and others we haven’t even imagined yet. Our thrust areas are the framework on which we develop programs rooted in people’s passions and meeting people’s needs.
  • These are just a few of the new programinitiatives which are currently starting to take shape…
  • Beyond the programs which are being seeded or have yet to be imagined is a bigger question:What are the opportunities that lie ahead?
  • In other words, where is the sharp, cutting edge against which we’ll grow?I found part of the answer in taking a look at how other institutions in the BTI and across the country are handling lifelong learning.
  • Some of our peer institutions are utilizing modern technology to help create an online world of rich resourcesHere: Concordia Seminary in St. Louis
  • Reformed Theological Seminary issues this invitation:“We have constructed an innovative way for you to ‘go to seminary without going to seminary!’ Consider God's call in your current place of family, church and community as you continue your journey with the Lord.”A “Virtual” Seminary, RTS offers 30 full courses, chapel messages, seminars & special events.
  • You can purchase whole courses much more affordably than you can buy most text books.
  • Bloggers are even advisingabout the courses you can put together to create your own theological education.
  • This is an opportunity to leverage our institutional excellence in pedagogy into a new environment.
  • Leonard Sweet is a sometimes controversial visionary. I think on this one, he’s got it absolutely right.
  • We have much to learn from our peers ---- and to offer in return. Together we can identify cutting edges, best practices, and useful resources. We are on a learning curve together. And EDS has valuable expertise to offer as we discover what excellence in building learning communities looks like in the online age.
  • Bring it on.
  • Part of the challenge of the MI, is 3 thriving institutions as collaborative partners. Each has its own understanding of what the MI is and should be.
  • My own strategy has been one of listening and transparency, with a focus on communication and discernment.The surfacing of these guiding commitments has proceeded from this.
  • The Mission Statement is still evolving. … I wish I had a dollar for every person who has asked me to explain the MI.Explaining the MI’s goals and focus is not yet a comfortable elevator speech for me, But this reflects where we are at present; it’s a working definition and will continue to be honed by intentional conversations in the coming year.
  • Our deeds often speak louder than our words.So what is the MI doing…?There are a number of programs we are developing. I will focus on just two.
  • Between Feb and May 2013 the MI ran five leadership developmentworkshops for lay and clergy leaders.The workshops were facilitated by Liz Magill and a team from the Diocese of Massachusetts. They focused on how church leaders can take a project from beginning to end and successfully engage a congregation in the process.It was offered as a part of Regional Learning Days organized by the Diocese. It was very well received.
  • My question to Liz was, where does this wonderful workshop fit in a larger stream of offerings that folks might take?Having developed a menu of terrific offerings, we are now in conversation with the Diocese’s congregational resource team to explore collaboration and finalize this exciting new learning stream. The MI believes in these programs because building strong, healthy congregations provides catalysts for positive change in communities. The ripples of social justice and healing go out from the pebbles of these dynamic programs.
  • There are few places more beautiful than Boston and Cambridge on a perfect Spring day. And the dawning of Patriot’s Day was no exception. As we know, it all changed before the Boston Marathon was over. The tragedy that engulfed the city has been experienced in one form or another by countless people all over the world. The fear & grief of senseless loss is a familiar reality in too many neighborhoods of our own cities.But the reality of that day wasn’t just terror and violence and loss, although that drew our attention. The reality of that day was also courage, reaching out, and resilience. The finest that we are as human beings also came to the fore in the face of this tragedy.
  • The MI has the characteristic of being an “infrastructure light” entity. This means it can respond nimbly to meet needs in a timely way. Within a week of the bombings and man-hunt, I had drafted a workshop series and was circulating it among potential partners to look for collaboration.Our focus is on finding ways to strengthen our resilience, and so bring greater healing to our world.
  • We’re still working on bringing these workshops to life, but the goal is to host them at community venues in Boston, Cambridge and Watertown. It has been an absolute delight working with the Expressive Therapies division of Lesley University, and I look forward to this collaboration, and others that are growing fruitfully.
  • Three months in, both the MI and LL at EDS are still developing, strengthened by strong roots and much support. I trust that in the coming year the fruit will become more visible. I look forward to celebrating that with you.
  • The Mission Institute and Lifelong Learning at EDS: A Brief Overview

    1. 1. A Director’s View from Three Months InReport to the EDS Board of Trustees byDr. Diane D’SouzaMay 22, 2013
    2. 2. The gift: a time to pause…
    3. 3. … a time to take stock:How can our strengths & experiencesshape a new vision?
    4. 4. Building on a Strong Foundation
    5. 5. EDSProgressiveInnovativeRespected
    6. 6. Extraordinary…Eminent facultyRespect for learnerindividuality &experienceCommitment tosocial & personaltransformationFocus on inclusiveeducation & socialjustice
    7. 7. How might more people cometo connect with who we areand what we believe?
    8. 8. Who needs us but hasn’t found us yet?
    9. 9. we have yet to imagine?What are the stories, voices,courses, gatherings, songs,resources, alliances…
    10. 10. How can Lifelong Learning at EDSincrease the life, vitality andscope of who we are?
    11. 11. Our Emphasis: EXCELLENCE … creating relevant & exciting learning opportunities PASSION … focusing on offerings which move our spirits CREATIVITY … envisioning new possibilities & learning communities COLLABORATION … strengthening our partnerships & cultivating new ones
    12. 12. Lifelong Learning at EDS:Program Areas• Envisioning &nurturing new waysof being atransforming &reconciling presencein the world• CREATIVITY• Increasing our skills,insights and abilities topartner in healing theworld• WISDOM• Increasing our capacityto be alistening, guiding, healing presence in theworld• STRENGTH• Recharging forfresh engagementwith the world• HOPE RenewingOur SpiritStrengtheningOurLeadershipBuilding OurFutureDeepeningOurKnowledge
    13. 13. In development:• Re-imagining Vocation; a 12-week program forclergy with the Episcopal Diocese of NewHampshire (Lent 2014)• Collaboration with the Religious Institute inoffering a sexuality course for religiousprofessionals• A joint Multi-faith Literacy initiative with theEpiscopal Church’s Ecumenical / Inter-religiousMinistry
    14. 14. What lies ahead?
    15. 15. Where is our cutting edge?
    16. 16. The future is here.
    17. 17. “The Web is the primary deliverysystem for learning and faithdevelopment. What the book wasto the modern world, the web willbe to the world that is forming.”Leonard SweetForward: 18 Rungs in the New Ladder of Learning
    18. 18. June 20, 2013ROUNDTABLEon Lifelong Learning / Continuing Education in BostonTheological Institute SchoolsAn initiative of Episcopal Divinity School, Boston College School ofTheology & Ministry, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    19. 19. This is our growth area.
    20. 20. A collaborative project ofEpiscopal Divinity School, Episcopal City Mission,& the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
    21. 21. CollaborationDiversityAbundanceSocial and economic justicePractical, contextual learningAction and reflectionFun, joy and passionThe MissionInstitute’s work isguided bycommitments to:
    22. 22. TheMission Instituteprovides congregations andcommunities with innovativelearning opportunities thatnurture leaders, advancespiritual growth, and supportthe flourishing of just, healthysocieties. Acknowledging thestrengths of diversity andcollaboration, the MissionInstitute strives to be aplatform through whichpeople can access a rich arrayof resources that fueltransformational ministry,especially in urban settings.
    24. 24. “… informative and interactive.”“… several takeaways that I can bring back to my church & vestry.”“… a refreshing overview & encouragement in people and projectmanagement.”“… an excellent new tool to create heaven on earth (a little!!) withincommittee work.”“…[it] opened my eyes to new thinking.”86 lay people and clergy participated in 5 different regional venues.Leadership for Transformationa 2013Mission Institute Workshop
    25. 25. Next Steps:Study Paths for Faith-based LeadershipA menu of workshopsoffering individuals andcongregations theopportunity to customizeprograms to meet theirneeds.Offerings include:• Introduction to Small Church Vitality• Finding God in the Work of the Committee• Embracing Part-time Leadership• New Ways of Being Church• Building Vital Communities that Reach Out
    26. 26. STRENGTHENING RESILIENCE:A Learning Seriesa collaborative initiative of the Mission Institute, Lesley University,and the Cambridge Health Alliance
    27. 27. How can we support growth and healingin times of trial? When the Unthinkable Happens: Strengthening Resilience Save Us from the Time of Trial: Spiritual Resources & ScientificInsights into Trauma and Healing Telling Your Story So It Can Be Heard What Do We Tell the Children? Parenting Through Troublingand Confusing TimesShort workshops that make a big difference.