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Video: Kendall Harmon on Leadership, Part 1

Monday, July 30, 2007 • 9:50 am

In the spring semester at Gordon Conwell, I was able to take a class on something that interests me greatly—leadership.  I believe that one of the big “missing pieces” within the Episcopal church amongst reasserters is that we simply lack—on a parish level, a diocesan level, and a national level—lay and clergy leaders. - Sarah Hey

Since I do not believe that leaders are “born,” but developed, I find it an aspect of the judgement of God on the Episcopal church that traditional Episcopalians often simply do not and have not stepped forward and acted as leaders, even when they have been given immense opportunity, gifts, and encouragement.  But on the other hand, there is no doubt that leadership is very hard.  So I enjoy learning about this subject.

Gordon Conwell offers a package of material that was developed from a three-year, Lilly Endowment sponsored study on leadership, as a part of the reading.  For the course, we were to complete various assignments and one of them was to conduct an interview with a Christian leader on the subject of leadership, covering various issues, including call, competence, character, and community aspects of leadership and then present that interview to the class.

Needless to say, the first person that I thought of as I pondered the exciting possibilities was someone whom I believe is one of the great leaders in our denomination.  So I contacted Kendall, and asked him if I could interview him and to my delight he said yes.  On Holy Saturday this year, I drove down to Summerville, set up the camera, and we talked—early that morning—for two hours.

Each segment—nobly edited and uploaded by the StandFirm webmaster, Greg Griffith—is about 15 to 20 minutes long.  This is the first of a 5-part series.  In this section, Kendall speaks about his early years of formation and leadership.

I hope that this video series will offer an opportunity for reflection and encouragement for all reasserters in whatever denomination or on whatever little stone bridge you find yourself. - Sarah Hey

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Sarah - it isn’t just that people did not step up to lead.  Prof. Heifetz at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government writes about how leaders always face “assasination” (obviously literal in some settings, but more often things like gossip, sabotage, etc.)
I think that TEC has become masterful at “aborting” leaders.  We’ve all read about (and experienced) the way that sacristy rats and bureaucrats are promoted in TEC, and people who actually evidence leadership are sidelined.  Fr. Roseberry of Plano (an obvious leader) once reported that he was seated a church growth conference with +KJS, who had many opinions about the subject but no real evidence of effective leadership.  That’s pretty typical TEC stuff.

Doesn’t mean that passivity isn’t part of the problem - but TEC’s resistance to true, healthy and Godly leadership is also a reality.

[1] Posted by Northern Plains Anglicans on 07-30-2007 at 11:21 AM • top

I hope that this video series will offer an opportunity for reflection and encouragement for all reasserters in whatever denomination or on whatever little stone bridge you find yourself.

Don’t forget the trolls under the bridge! wink

[2] Posted by Piedmont on 07-30-2007 at 12:57 PM • top

We’ve all read about (and experienced) the way that sacristy rats and bureaucrats are promoted in TEC, and people who actually evidence leadership are sidelined.

  NPA: Those who are pushed aside by TEC and its minions can still lead others even if it’s to a more reasserting parish or diocese or out of TEC altogether.

[3] Posted by Piedmont on 07-30-2007 at 01:11 PM • top

Aha!  Finally, the subject of your GCTS interview revealed…

[4] Posted by James Manley on 07-30-2007 at 07:22 PM • top

I am nothing short of DELIGHTED to see the whole issue of leadership raised here.

We really were taught at seminaries in 1970s that leadership was neither wanted nor needed from priests.  Being that the parish was the permanent feature and clergy the transient feature, leadership belonged to the parish and should arise from the laity with clergy taking the role of making possible what the laity wanted.  This has manifested itself in many forms including vacancy consultation, CDO profiles, ministry as management rather than leadership, annual reviews of professionals by non-professionals turning into gripe sessions, and the holding of the professionals hostage to hidden agendas.  Another manifestation of this is long vacancy periods in which parishes “grieve” (or rejoice!) over clergy departure.  And even when a cleric is selected, the wisdom of places like Alban Institute was to change nothing for a year or more and then to just manage change.  It was all very paralyzing.

Now we wonder where the leaders are, and they were either refused entry to ordained ministry or driven out or neutralized.

What is needed is clergy taught to lead and shorter replacement times, turnover from one cleric to the next, and a responsible process for selecting ‘rector coadjutor’ for orderly continuity of leading ministries.

And we still suffer from the phenomenon of clergy working alone so that they are both the manager and the would-be leader—a total confusion of roles leading to clergy burnout.  This is a system designed to fail.

Now we need leaders.  And I applaud those still standing!

[5] Posted by BravoZulu on 08-01-2007 at 06:28 PM • top

Ted, what you said about a squelched leadership- In about all the churches today there seems to be such a focus on servant-leadership that the passages about the presbyters “ruling well” seem somehow out-of-place.  Insights, anyone?

[6] Posted by Robert Easter on 08-02-2007 at 06:39 PM • top

I just finished David Hackett Fischer’s _Washington’s Crossing_,
an excellent study of military and civicleadership in the early days of the United States, 1776-77, which may be relevant to the clergy leadership thread.  The author compares the hierarchical style of the British and Hessian generals, the “common rights” style of New Englanders, the style of the Fairfax, VA leadership class to which Washington was born (hierarchichal), the “partnership” syle of the Philadelphia Associators, the independent style of the Pennsylvania Rifleman:  Washington had to learn how to work against (in the case of the enemy) and with all those styles in order to be successful.  And to work with public opinion, the press, and Congress.—Perhaps the emphasis on equipping the parish—the 1970s goal Fr. Harmon mentions—was done at the expense of
maintaining, in addition, strong clergy leadership.  Obviously, both are necessary.  I was fortunate enough to know a rector who could do both very well:  it was during the 1970s, and he did “equip the parish.” He developed lay ministry programs ( renewal, education, and service based), and insisted on democratically conducted vestry and parish meetings, consistently done according to parish and diocesan rules.  However, he never let us forget that Christ was the center of the parish,  the promotion of Christ’s kingdom what our ministries were about, and that he—the rector—was in charge, the di-rector, the person in the central leadership position. I’ll never forget when he first came and I repeated—to his face—a criticism I’d heard.  He asked me to find the duties of a priest in the prayer book and pray the prayers offered there.  Then I began to understand.

[7] Posted by celindascott on 08-03-2007 at 03:15 PM • top

I must say that I am not any type of expert on the historical, philosophical, or intellectual types of leaders. My belief is that the lack of Biblical teaching has resulted in a denomination full of wounded people, looking to other people for their self worth. If you do not know what God’s word says about who you are in Christ you are easily swayed by other people. When you look to others for validation, satanic and demonic influences can sneak in and then people start making up thier own theology. In one of the parables in Luke, Jesus talks about good fruit coming forth from the overflow of one’s heart and bad/ evil/ fleshly fruit (anger, pride, sexual imorality, envy,greed,idolatry) also from the overflow of one’s heart. I believe the key to strong leadership is a total dependence on God’s will and God’s word. Faith is NOT about being politically correct or making everyone happy or creating “diversity” it is about Jesus’ commission to heal the sick, cast out demons and spread the TRUTH to all people greeting them in love and compassion. If we as individuals “get right with God” and know His voice, the leadership will be provided. God WILL raise up leaders. Read Hebrews 11 to be once again blown away by God’s work in the lives of individuals, their faithfulness and the effect that had on thier nations.  I exhort each of you to the same challenge I face every day…put off the works of the flesh which lead to death…even death of a denomination…and put on the Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians) which brings life and wholeness.
God’s word also says to “test the spirits”. When nominating or voting for vestries/ when calling rectors/ laity/teachers/etc, we should look at thier fruit…and that does not mean income, material things, number of committees they have served on. It means looking at their lives for evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit , for the evidence that they trust God for all things and walk daily in Faith, that they take no credit for their accomplishments but give God the glory for all of it. For in Psalms it says that He establishes kings and He deposes them.


[8] Posted by MaggieR on 08-04-2007 at 09:30 AM • top

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