The CREDO Institute of the Episcopal Church brought its wellness program to the Diocese of Pittsburgh last weekend, as it sponsored two days of reflection, discussion and prayer for nearly 120 diocesan and parish leaders.
The May 21st and 2nd "Strength for the Journey" conference was the first of a series to be offered in each of the four dioceses in the U.S. that have undergone splits.
The Rev. Rick Cluett, one of the Presiding Bishop's deputies and a CREDO project manager, noted that while the Episcopal Church has other programs to take care of diocesan structures, this conference was meant "to look after the well-being of people."
The presentations and discussions focused on finding meaning and hope in recent events.
"The search for meaning is always intensified during disasters," said CREDO's Associate Director, the Rev. Gay Jennings, as she drew parallels between natural disasters and ecclesiastical divisions. She charted how people respond as they come together, work through their grief, and rebuild.
The Rev. Brian Taylor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, spoke of common experiences in the story of Exodus, the Paschal Mystery, and today. In each, there is movement from brokenness into the unknown before reaching new life. "Those who left [the Episcopal Church] can see this as their story, too," he said.
At other times during the conference the Rev. Taylor addressed spiritual practices, and for a full hour, led a sing-along of American spirituals and Gospel hymns.
Dr. Glen Kreiner of Penn State presented research on how Episcopalians see themselves, with "Christ-centered" as the most agreed on identity, while Bob Stice, a clinical counselor, talked about resiliency as a way to move from hurt to healing.
Stice also presented the inspirational video, "Celebrate What's Right with the World," in which former National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones shows how his photo assignments helped him see the world differently. "Perception controls our reality and if we don't believe it, we won't see it." Jones says.
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