Many of the FACT leadership team got together last night for a social evening at mine. It was a chance for us to get together as clergy/leaders and socialise, without a business agenda to do ! It was also good to do it with our spouses and families, when they do so much for us in practical and support terms. We often forget that behind our leaders are often families and spouses who are doing lots of practical things at home and in church, to allow us to do the work we were ordained to do. This was a chance to say thank you to them. It was also Sam and I's way of saying thank you to all the FACT clergy for their support and prayers during what has not been an easy year for us personally.
In case you don't already know, the leaders meet together a business lunch every two months and this is a good chance for us to talk honestly and frankly with each other, knowing that it is a completely confidential forum. There are many issues which are thrashed out here before coming to Exec meetings, but we also discuss deeper issues ( usually over the lunch. ) Last time we met, we ended up discussing how we went about preaching on the previous Sunday's reading. When we talk like this it gives us an opportunity to share which is not always available to us in the other contexts in which we meet up. It allows us find out more about each other and our denominations. A real chance to experience "Unitas cum Diversitate". The old term for this was a clergy fraternal, but of course its an outdated phrase given that four of our members are women.
One little funny story from the last meeting - Being a Monday, I was looking after Tabitha so she shared lunch with us. She was sat quietly at the other end of the table from me next to Nick Cooper, the Baptist Pastor. Nick did an excellent job of entertaining Tabi and she really warmed to him. Then out of the blue she pulls the crucifix necklace she was wearing, out of her dress and asks Nick "Do you like my necklace?" I don't think poor Nick knew what to say, I am sure that a Baptist official view would have been different from his "That's nice" and shows how much more comfortable we are all becoming with each other and our ways.
Please remember the leadership group in your prayers, its not always easy and we really do tackle some extremely difficult issues at times.