In the early 2000’s now retired bishop +Claude Payne felt we needed more hope, more energy and that it was time to do something to bring people together for this. He used to refer to GOL as the “research and development” branch of the church, a place where people learn from failure and challenge, but also share success and new ideas. +Payne worked with many other people to develop the idea of peer networks that could develop excellent leadership for the church. Our first Gathering was held in 2006. +Payne felt that the youngest leaders in the church were the ones who were underserved. Since the founding of GOL the church has changed, and GOL has opened more and more networks to address that, welcoming in Lay and Bivocational Leaders successfully in 2022. At our core GOL is grounded in the Great Commission. Jesus sent the disciples to bring the gospel to the world, and that is our unifying mission. Our network and peer learning are tools to transform the church in both spirit and numbers.
We believe that you deserve to be supported with quality programs that help you live into your calling. We believe that you deserve to be connected to a larger network of people who are just like you to help you, resource you, and support you. We are committed to the missionary call of Christ, respect for differences, creative and innovative leadership, and to growing the church and her leaders. Learn more here. (link to about page)
GOLers encompass all orders of ministry, Lay to Bishop. We are a vibrant and diverse community that maintains our core values. We are volunteer lay leaders actually leading churches, we are diocesan or national church level staff. We are veterinarians or cattle ranchers, social workers or teachers and also church leaders. We are based in every state in the United States, and we’re also in Rome and Canada. We are also full time clergy leaders, and freshman or seasoned bishops. Our broad base reflects the diversity of God’s creation and of the Episcopal Church. Together we share the gospel and seek to grow the people of God. We share a hope-filled vision for the church, even when we look honestly at the realities around us we believe that good gifts are still to come. We also respect differences and place a high value on creative and innovative leadership. In 2022 we launched both a Lay Leader and Bivocational Leader network to compliment our existing clergy network. This is because we believe that these leaders also deserve to be supported, and they bring resilience, creativity and passion to GOL. Our shared wisdom is within us. There is no talking head or expert in the room at our events, rather, we learn from and with each other.
You need to experience it to really understand, but we’ll take a stab at it! We’ve also linked a sample agenda for you to take a peek at. Gatherings are 25-40 people in one place over about three days and each Gathering has a theme, with at least one per year being a theme rooted in racial reconciliation because we believe in this important work. We gather for lunch on the first day and orient ourselves. Provocative questions followed by table talk conversations and common worship build the community of those at the Gathering. On the second day, our only full day, our peer led conversations happen. Mission Moments are usually about 20 minutes long, and where someone from the Gathering is able to present on a project or idea, sometimes these are stories about a failure, and sometimes about a huge win. We believe our failures teach us something too. Adaptive Conversations happen on the second day. These are small groups discussing a specific challenge that offer a structure for conversation to help gain new perspectives. Our third day ends with lunch. Each evening is not scheduled. Evenings are times of rest, social time or networking. We provide a great selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages and some snacks and those present do the rest. This can look like a snug corner conversation, connections around a fireplace talking about families or work, or simply gazing together at the stars. You do you. Each Gathering has a Theologian in Residence who offers a Bible study that helps to ground us to the theme of the Gathering and our mission as a network.
That is up to you. At the end of our third day we offer something we call Stops and Starts. What do you need to stop doing? How are you getting in your own way? And what do you want to start doing? What inspiration have you taken from the Gathering, what ideas do you want to implement in your own context? We offer virtual events throughout the year, you can stay in touch via our virtual spaces, and we think you’ll be delighted to discover that you’ve made long lasting friendships in just a short space of time.
We have some participants who only attend one, and we have others who attend several per year! We’d love to see you as often as you’re able to come to a Gathering.
The fees for our Gatherings cover our meeting space, all food, lodging, snacks and ground transportation to and from the airport. For a group of 30 or more this can add up quickly and GOL is not able to cover these expenses on our own. If our fees are preventing you, or someone you know, from attending a Gathering please do reach out to us to see if we have any scholarship funds available. We never want fees to stand in the way of what our Gatherings offer.