Too often I hear about how "we used to have a ministerial alliance, but people just stopped meeting together after awhile." Amid the many responsibilities of ordained and lay leaders in churches, it can be hard to maintain healthy colleague relationships with fellow leaders in the community. Yet, these relationships prove critical during community-wide crises. This weekend, the ordained and lay leaders of Charlottesville, VA, knew they could easily communicate with one another and respond in joint effort at a moment's notice.
The Charlottesville Clergy Collective's mission is to establish, develop, and promote racial unity within the faith leadership of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Region through fellowship, collaborative partnership, and relationship-building. They fulfill their mission by:
• Meeting regularly to foster mutual trust and open communication.
• Engaging in group events to highlight issues of racial and social justice in our community.
• Partnering with other community leaders to promote mutual cooperation between law enforcement, city government, and the faith leadership of this region.
• Working together to support marginalized and historically under-served populations in our community.
By practicing their mission, they have critical and effective relational tools to draw on when necessary.
A common mantra in disaster preparedness circles is to "shake hands before the disaster." ICTG staff and volunteers often talk about this mantra and how healing happens at the same speed as business: the speed of trust. You save precious time and effort in times of crisis by taking the time and effort to introduce yourself and build relationships in times of peace. With the visionary leadership of Rev. Dr. Edwards, the Charlottesville Clergy Collective recognized the need for this vital practice and dedicated themselves to it.
In ICTG trainings, we often talk about the importance of establishing and maintaining personal and professional care networks to help build trust and reliability. We provide worksheets in each of our three training guides to help ordained and lay leaders consider who they want to be able to rely on in times of severe loss and what relationships they can practice building in times of peace.
If you're wondering how best to respond to events in Charlottesville, VA, this weekend, one important step may be to establish or strengthen your local clergy collective or ministerial alliance. If your local group has tips to share with other communities or you have questions about best practices, share your comments or questions below.