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August 8, 2012

A teacher reflects… Telling the Indaba story

by CI admin
Story Wordle2

Our small group became closer and more trusting of one another after praying for each other, and I pray that it will have a comparable outcome within a potentially divisive milieu here in Derby Diocese.

Liz Thomas is a retired teacher and a Lay Reader in the Diocese of Derby. Here she reflects on her part in one of the Pilot Conversations and her continuing Indaba journey in her diocese.

 The Indaba process and me

As a teacher and then head teacher I spent my professional life negotiating, building relationships, evaluating progress and ensuring that pupils achieved their full potential. I assumed that Continuing Indaba would be similar, at least in some ways, and was excited at the prospect of being part of one pilot conversation. Six months on I reflect on my experience as visitor and host and share some of my thoughts:

The difference made to me and my ministry

Sharing the experience is relatively easy in that people are interested in where one has been and what one has been doing. Pictures help and articles in the Team magazine raise awareness. What is harder is sharing the vision! I have pastoral responsibility for a tiny village church within a team of 10 churches. As Reader I attend Team Council and Deanery synod meetings and I am a member of the PCC at my home parish. The Indaba process has made me a much more empathetic listener. Making others confident in expressing their deeply held ideas and responsible for their prayerful discussions are elements that I actively encourage whenever I lead meetings.

At our next Deanery synod I will use the Lambeth Lectio at the start of the meeting. I was deeply moved by this in Bangalore. Our small group became closer and more trusting of one another after praying for each other, and I pray that it will have a comparable outcome within a potentially divisive milieu here in Derby Diocese.

I like being in control and manipulating process in order to achieve the outcomes that I believe are the right ones; this is an ex head at the confessional! Having experienced the Pilot Conversation I now appreciate that the Indaba process empowers everyone. My earnest prayer is that I can be instrumental in inspiring others to listen respectfully, so that together we may find the sacred space where the Holy Spirit can get to work.

Indaba, Derby Diocese and the Anglican Communion

There are seven people, clergy and lay, who I now know well. Having travelled together, prayed together, hosted, wined and dined together we have developed a group identity which will stay with us for a long time. I have learnt much about the Communion by discovering the diocese to which I belong. Idiosyncrasy and parochial-ness are endemic (even within a team of 10 churches) and it has been great to travel the diocese and see something of its huge diversity in ministry and mission.

Hosting our partner dioceses enabled me to “see” people and places through others’ eyes. Their observations were particularly insightful and provocative.

Mumbai and New York showed me the Anglican Communion as I had never seen it before and I revelled in the excitement of hands-on mission, colour, music and the genuine feeling of family that pervaded. I felt part of that family, a valued member of that family, and returned home convinced that I wanted to keep the family together whatever its disagreements.

As I write Team GB’s Olympic achievements are in the news hourly, if not minute by minute and I enjoy the fact that individuals strive but it is the team which gets the medal placing and the greater glory. I know there’s a sermon in here somewhere! Continuing Indaba can only make a difference if individuals grasp it, believe in it and make it work. I rejoice in the fact that I was invited to experience the process at first hand and am grateful for the opportunity to have done so. Our group continues to meet. Things are happening in Derby Diocese, albeit on a small scale. I believe in Indaba….

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