Participants of this year’s Clergy Conference will bond in many ways, including with the Holy Spirit.
The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida’s annual Clergy Conference will be held Oct. 23-25 at the Canterbury Retreat & Conference Center, 1601 N. Alafaya Trail, in Oviedo. Registration starts at 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 23. The event ends with lunch at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
A mandatory participatory event for all parochial priests (rectors, vicars, full-time assistants, priests-in-charge, and priests overseeing diocesan facilities and serving as full-time chaplains), the conference will feature topics about the Holy Spirit, as well as offer attendees the benefit of continued education while networking, building relationships and sharing spiritual renewal, according to the Rev. Canon Dr. Justin Holcomb, Canon for Vocations for the diocese.
“Clergy Conference is an annual event every October,” Holcomb said. “The purpose of the conference is at least three-fold: (1) retreat and rest; (2) collegiality/being there, since clergy are spread out over the 15 counties of Central Florida; and (3) continuing education.
“It is mandatory for priests,” Holcomb said. “Deacons are invited and welcome. The only laity allowed to attend are postulants and candidates in the discernment process for the priesthood, and that is by special invitation of the bishop. The reason is that the conference is specifically for clergy only. It is an opportunity for them to build connections and to learn and worship together.”
Participants will have the privilege of listening to two notable speakers: Dr. Simeon Zahl, assistant professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Nottingham (England); and Dr. Chris Green, associate professor of Theology at Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee.
“Building relationships across the diocese is one of our chief strategic goals,” said the Rev. Canon Tim Nunez, Canon to the Ordinary, for the diocese. “The conference is one way we foster development of those relationships.”
Additionally, Bishop Greg Brewer will preach and celebrate the Holy Eucharist at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the St. Augustine Chapel, according to a diocesan news release. The service includes the renewal of ordination vows and consecration of oils.
Holcomb said this year’s conference is titled “Applied Pneumatology.”
“Pneumatology is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The focus on it being ‘applied’ means we are not just going to talk about a theoretical approach toward the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We will explore the normal Christian experience with the Holy Spirit. Of course, ‘normal’ is the key word. This demystifies the extraordinary and gives encouragement to the ordinary means of the Spirit’s work.
“We want this to not be only theoretical, but applied,” Holcomb said, “but we want it to be at an academic level, too. This is what (we) both do well. Our hope is that this will help clergy distinguish what is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what is not. As you know, people can use their ‘Holy Spirit card’ in a variety of ways. Perhaps topics could be ministry of Holy Spirit in individuals’ reality and experience, church and mission.”
Holcomb said takeaways from the event vary year to year.
“Last year we had Garwood Anderson on 2 Corinthians 1-5; in 2015 (it) was Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer; in 2014 (it) was Christopher Beeley on early church fathers on leadership; and 2013 (it) was Nathan Jennings on liturgy.”
To obtain a 2017 conference schedule, please visit www.canterburyretreat.org/events/2017-clergy-conference-october-23rd-25th on the internet.