IOWA CITY — Participants of the Davenport Diocese’s first Servant Leadership Institute say it’s a valuable program that ought to be shared in a flexible format with parish councils, adult faith formation groups and individuals.
During a Jan. 13 meeting at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City, facilitator Dan Ebener sought participants’ input on how to make the Servant Leadership Institute accessible to more people. Ebener is the diocese’s stewardship director and his new book, “Servant Leadership Models for Your Parish,” is a key resource for the institute, along with Scripture readings.
About 20 people at the Iowa City event — which concluded the fall institute and inaugurated the spring institute — reflected on servant leadership, and then offered suggestions for enhancing the institute’s “portability.”
Participants suggested the institute could be adapted for a variety of groups — such as parish councils — as a way of incorporating faith formation into meetings and other activities. With people’s busy schedules, flexibility is essential, participants said.
One participant recommended use of technologies such as “Skype,” a software program that allows individuals and businesses to make free video and voice calls over the Internet. That technology could be helpful for people throughout the diocese who aren’t able to make in-person group meetings.
But the small-group format has plenty of cheerleaders. Participant Ed Finn, a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf and the Diocesan Stewardship Committee, said he prefers the small group’s face-to-face interaction. He also appreciated having Msgr. Marvin Mottet, a retired priest of the diocese, as his coach. “It’s vital to have that give and take,” added Sandi Frericks of St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass, who with her husband, Deacon Don Frericks, also a Diocesan Stewardship Committee member, participated in the same group as Finn.
A small group representing five parishes was especially helpful to participant Michelle Yetley of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. She said the interaction provided participants with an opportunity to share what works and doesn’t work in their parishes.
Ebener noted that Churches United of the Quad Cities Area is exploring adaptation of the Servant Leadership Institute for its board of directors meetings. The Rev. Ron Quay, executive director of Churches United, said the board will introduce what he calls “a teaser” to Servant Leadership during the next couple of board meetings. That could lead to a retreat on Servant Leadership.
Rev. Quay said the hope is to encourage board members to ask themselves not only, “How can we be servant leaders as part of the leadership of Churches United?” But also, “How can we as leaders of our local churches lead them or encourage them to become aware of and include servant leadership in their congregations?”
Participate in institute
The start-up date for the Servant Leadership Institute is flexible. Parish councils, stewardship committees or anyone interested in participating or creating a group of participants for the institute may contact Dan Ebener at Ebener@davenportdiocese.org.