Examples of Communities of Theological Friendship
Carol Allen is one of the early recipients of a $1,500 Mini-Grant. With colleague Barbara Cathey she attended the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network conference at Big Tent, and they came away with a renewed awareness of the importance of covenant groups. “We began to realize how fantastic it would be to actually sit down and talk to each other for more than five minutes at a Presbytery meeting,” says Allen, who some years before retirement helped author a book called Shared Wisdom that helps pastoral leaders, seminarians and laity use the case study method to reflect theologically on their practice of ministry. She and Barbara invited nine other woman pastors ranging in age from mid-30s to 71 to join their community of theological friendship. “All of them, including the one that wasn’t able to join us, said ‘yes, this is exactly what we’re looking for,’” says Allen. “There’s such a hunger for a timeout, for spiritual support to live out what we believe as we practice ministry.”
Allen, who retired from Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in 2005, is now working in spiritual direction. Cathey is the full-time pastor of a multicultural Chicago congregation. Their group will use their Mini-Grant to cover costs for a speaker and some of the lodging expenses for their first retreat in the fall of 2012.