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May 13, 2016 | By The Rt. Rev. Kirk S. Smith, Bishop of Arizona | The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona
May and June are the months for graduation, and yesterday, we had our own special graduation ceremony at Trinity Cathedral.
The presbyters you see below just completed a special program offered jointly by the Diocese of Arizona and the Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation. It’s called, “Best Skills Best Churches: What Seminary Didn’t Teach You,” and was a six-part training for priests in nonprofit management.
The classes came out of a conversation I had last year with some of our younger priests. When I asked them what they needed in their formation but weren’t getting, they told me that they wished they could have some training in those topics that are common, not just to churches, but to all nonprofits. Topics like: How do you read a spreadsheet? How do you recruit volunteers? How do you deal with conflict? How do you raise funds?
I brought their concerns to some folks we know at the Lodestar Center at ASU, which does exactly this kind of training. Working with them, we were able to design this program, which is tailored to the needs of presbyters. Upon completion of all the courses, graduates received a certificate from ASU in Nonprofit Management. It looks good on a resume!
The program was a huge success. Not only did the younger presbyters enjoy it, but they were joined by many veteran priests as well. I attended several classes and took pages of notes about things I never knew after 35 years of ordination!
The program was so helpful, the staff and I have decided to extend it to deacons, lay leaders, and lay staff in our diocese. The content and format will be similar, but the time of classes will be different--Saturdays instead of Thursdays to make it possible for those working during the week to attend. This would be an ideal opportunity for a church staff member or Senior Warden or anyone who wants to go deeper in the art and science of running a parish. The cost will be nominal, and like the presbyter program (which will also be offered again in the fall), this version will also offer a certificate from ASU.
Our planning is not finalized yet (we have not settled on a venue--it will need to be in the Phoenix area because of the ASU faculty). We expect a capacity crowd, and class size will be limited. Registration will go online in June, and information will be sent out to all clergy and churches at that time.
Arizona is serving as a model for this kind of training partnership throughout the larger church. I invite you to participate in this groundbreaking learning opportunity!
Originally published by the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona here.