Ministry executives, the North America Mission & Values team, and province leaders gathered in March to reimagine how Good Shepherd mission and values can be deepened and sustained in North America.
Throughout the four-day event, participants held to the principles of listening with curiosity, speaking with intention, asking for what they need and offering what they can. They paused from time-to-time to reflect and process what they were hearing from one another. Again and again, they asked themselves and each other, “What could we do better together across North America that we cannot do alone to integrate, sustain, and deepen the mission and values work? What emerging possibilities do we want to explore?”
Participants met in St. Louis to examine new ways of organizing mission and values within the context of teams and agencies. They asked themselves what is needed to sustain passion for the mission for the long haul. And they discussed how they can share resources and co-create across the Good Shepherd North America network. They pondered each of these issues with the goal of leaving the gathering with a portfolio of experiments and a big picture timeline to represent the group’s collaborative actions.
They also dreamed — exploring wide open possibilities of what could be if time, money, personnel and geography posed no challenges, and wondered how things would work if there were a common mode of communication or structure.
What is important to do
Breakout sessions allowed participants to delve into topics that they had identified as being important for attaining success. Topics included Mission Effectiveness orientation for board members; developing a cell phone app for North America; and rethinking the Good Shepherd Executive Director quarterly meetings to be more inclusive and focused. One breakout session focused on defining what the success of Mission Effectiveness looks like for new hires, leaders, tenured staff and board members. Another group met to brainstorm ways to infuse peace and justice into action at the organizational level.
Each component of the Mission Values meeting connected back to the purpose of the gathering, begging the question: what are the things coming up that feel important to do?
Within this context, participants addressed additional questions:
- What are the world and our local communities asking of us now in how we embody mission and values?
- What are the ways of being that we are trying to create to bring mission and values to life, and how do we nourish and deepen them?
- What are our areas of strength or emerging practices of mission and values work and their impact?
- What gives us optimism and how do we personally sustain mission and values work for the long term?
Participants shared their thoughts and ideas by posting comments on sticky notes and adhering them to the wall for all to see and consider.
Michael Shanahan, CEO of Maria Droste Counseling Services in Boston, Massachusetts, praised the retreat. He said, “We will look back on this retreat one day as being seminal. What we do here during these four days will carry Good Shepherd into the future.
“We are talking about big ideas at this meeting and figuring out how to implement them together. Each of us is serious about this process and will be leaving with action steps. It’s joyful and beautiful work. I’m filled with gratitude for being with energetic like-minded people to carry out such an important endeavor,” Michael said.
Rebekah Albert, CEO of Rose Haven in Portland, Oregon, said, “I am happy to have this time to connect with my Good Shepherd family who serves people in their communities with love and acceptance. I am sitting by this pond with geese in it who move gracefully and effortlessly from one environment to another. We are doing that here at this leadership retreat — remembering how we got here as Good Shepherds, and how we will transition naturally with ease.”
Amanda Fenton facilitated the meeting. She has worked in the cooperative sector for nearly 17 years and is skilled in designing participatory gatherings, using circle-based methods to host and harvest conversations for thoughtful change.
The Good Shepherd family across the United States and Canada was represented by CEOs from 13 agencies, province department heads and leaders from the provinces of Mid-North America and New York/Toronto.
The participants are staying connected and advancing the work online.