“Sometimes preaching the Gospel will bring division, but if it happens because we are faithful to the Gospel, it is not a failure.” I’ve been reflecting on these words from Bishop Brown Snook’s closing remarks at the GOL in Colorado last week. The gathering’s theme of “Unity and Division in Mission” was, and is, a theme that is close to my heart and apparently the heart of many of the other attendees. Given the state of politics and lack of any constructive, civil dialogue on the national level, rendering many of our churches into echo chambers of the latest news sound bite or social media meme, it was refreshing to gather with a group of colleagues who are dedicated to ushering in God’s Kingdom in our community.
This assembly of clergy isn’t called a Gathering of Leaders for nothing. During our first plenary session together, we were asked what we wanted to accomplish or experience during our time together. Of course, I had two – first, I wanted to get to know every attendee, and second, I wanted to leave with a takeaway idea that I would want to use in my current ministry or future ministry. On both counts, GOL far exceeded my expectations. We were eager to be in each other’s company, and to share what we were doing in our own ministry contexts. Conversations were frank, honest, hopeful, and interjected with a lot of humor and practicality. And after almost two weeks out, I am still downloading and reflecting on all of the ideas and opportunities I gleaned from my colleagues. Insightful and transformative aspects of their leadership experiences are fast becoming part of my own continuing leadership development.
I am so grateful for the time I spent with GOL in Colorado. I’m grateful for the folks who spent tireless hours making it all happen, and the teachers and speakers who shared their wisdom and insights. Most of all, I’m grateful for this group of colleagues who came together and reminded me what our ministry is all about and what it can be.
The Rev. Canon Michael Horvath
Bristol, Rhode Island
Rector, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church