By REV. LEIGH MARTIN
This summer ACE2 rallied more than 90 clergy in the North Georgia Annual Conference into 13 peer learning groups.
The Academy of Clergy Excellence, known as ACE Squared, is an alternate continuing education program for clergy. Each group comprises of six to eight clergy who commit to a two-year covenantal learning process.
After its announcement in late spring, interest in ACE2 far exceeded expectation. When asked why this program generated such enthusiasm, participants said they were looking for: connection, lifelong learning, adventure, renewal, and a desire for God to do a new thing in me and my church.
ACE2 empowers groups to design their own unique continuing education. It challenges participants to dream of new ways of learning together, rather than merely participating in pre-packaged seminars that they could do on their own. Groups were given authority to decide their own learning objectives. These are as varied as the groups themselves.
"Parts Unknown" is dreaming about church beyond church by immersing themselves in unknown places outside the church walls. "Border Walls" and "Bridges" will focus on things that divide us including physical borders, class, and education. "Walking Women of the World" will practice mindfulness as they train body, mind, and spirit while hiking trails near and far. "Shema" will focus on holy listening, while "Conversations Along the Journey" will practice having difficult conversations.
Several groups are steeping themselves in the renewed practice of spiritual disciplines. "Prayer and Place" will focus on prayer and contemplation. "Purer Space" seeks a spiritual detox in order to deepen their spiritual lives.
The benefit of ACE2 is twofold. It strengthens relationships while members search for authentic answers to big questions. "Intentional Pilgrims" want to know how old things can be made new while reclaiming the great American road trip along Route 66. The "Intellectually Curious," "Socially Holy" and "Conscious" are grappling with how the church can engage in cross-cultural discipleship.
Groups like "Serenity Sisters" are asking how can we care for both ourselves and others. "Rest and Renewal" wants to know how to pour themselves out for others knowing that they will be refilled. "Care Bears" is asking how caring for self, others and the world will lead to transformation as they visit an old leper colony in Hawaii. "Job’s Friends" have been a clergy peer group for more than 30 years. Their time will be spent asking how they can pass along the value of clergy peer groups.
ACE2 brings clergy together to bond, learn, and dream. Some groups formed quickly, while others took time and effort to come together. No matter how they came together, excitement abounds as the inaugural class begins their journey. Over the next two years, these 13 groups will be sharing their adventures with us all. Stay tuned as ACE2 has only begun.Rev. Leigh Martin is the Conference Coordinator of ACE2. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.