I’m very fortunate to be part of a group of 10 Central Texas Christian clergy that are meeting every couple of months over the next year or so to develop our leadership skills as pastors present in public life in our communities. We are Methodist, UCC, Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran. We are from San Antonio, Hutto, Caldwell, Dripping Springs, and points in between. In this fellowship funded by the Lily Foundation, we get to come together for three-day retreats on the campus of the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin and listen to fabulous speakers and facilitators on leadership and engagement, demographics, race, and more. State, regional and community leaders share their wisdom, and we share with each other. You can read more about the Pastoral Leadership in Public Life program here.
One thing that really struck me at our last meeting was the realization that engagement in public life includes much more than traditional political structures (City Council meetings, legislative visits, etc.). We were encouraged to get involved in civic life in our communities in many different ways. Here is an excerpt of the report I submitted this time about my “community actions” in the past two months, which were inspired by my learning in this fellowship opportunity. It has been great to get involved in the Dripping Springs community in new ways, and to learn more about the place I live and work and pastor.
I attended Lutheran Legislative Days Monday, February 29, 2016 – There I signed up for Texas Impact newsletter, and onto Facebook page. There I also learned more about the importance of knowing how water decisions are made in our community, and that the regional water planning groups of the Texas Water Development Board are a good place to start. (See below.) We were also encouraged to connect locally to faith-based governmental programs, like “Congregations Helping in Love and Dedication (CHILD), a partnership with Child Protective Services (see below).
I attended the Texas Night Sky Festival Saturday, March 5, 2016 in Dripping Springs- My stated goal for my local action this period was in part to connect with the Hays Co. Master Naturalists, and I visited with them at their table at theNight Sky festival. I talked with the about what they do. At home, I checked into the training to be part of this program- it starts in yearly in February- I put on calendar to apply in Dec. At the Festival and researching more afterwards, I learned more about Dripping Springs Night Sky Policies, including new agr