Professional conferences are standard operating procedure for most companies, helping employees stay current on a variety of business practices. Congregations shouldn’t be any different. Working for a church presents very unique challenges. Church workers need a place where they can be with others who understand those challenges. Pastors have “winkels.” Teachers have faculty meetings, conferences and professional-growth requirements. What about other church workers?
The Indiana District is known in the Synod for supporting and caring for all church workers, including DCEs, DCOs, deaconesses and other “non-pastor, non-teacher” parish workers. Our Indiana District has even employed two part-time Congregation Service Assistants (CSAs), who work with this third group of church workers: Larry Hencye in the north and George Denholm in the south. These CSAs stay in contact with the various workers of the Indiana District, schedule regular “cluster” meetings in several regions of the district and consult with those workers who plan youth events, such as junior high retreats, the Senior High Youth Gathering and the LCMS National Youth Gathering.
One of the great services our Indiana District provides for these auxiliary workers is a schedule of regular growth
conferences. For many years, the Indiana District has sponsored a fall retreat using the two Lutheran outdoor
camps in the Indiana District. This retreat usually focuses on spiritual growth and personal refreshment, but always includes time for fellowship and camaraderie. The Indiana District has also traditionally sponsored a spring conference in a hotel setting. This conference usually focuses on professional growth that spans the diverse ministries in which our “DCE types” serve. The Fall 2016 Retreat provided lots of opportunity to worship in song and to reflect on God’s action, even in the worst times of our lives. The Spring 2017 Retreat is still in the planning stage, but will focus on some aspect of leadership.
We encourage all pastors to support their DCEs, DCOs, deaconesses, youth workers, worship leaders or other auxiliary workers not in the classroom or pulpit and invite them to participate in these growth opportunities. All “DCE types” should take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn and be refreshed while enjoying some great times with others who serve as they do.
Written by George Denholm, St. Peter’s, Columbus
First published in the January edition of the Lutheran Witness