A Word From the Director
Welcome to a set of practices simple in their form but powerful in impact. VocationCARE is designed to reach into that heart-space where we are met and transformed by God, where we endeavor – through the practices of story-telling and deep listening to one another in dedicated, contemplative space – to discover what really matters about our “one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver, The Summer Day) and how to embody that life passionately in the world.
Since its beginnings in 2010, VocationCARE has been the key for congregations, dioceses and other judicatories, intentional communities and other Christian entities, and individuals, finding renewed purpose and paths toward constructive action. The CARE practices were originally co-developed by the Calling Congregations team at the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) in Atlanta.
VocationCARE consists of observable disciplines that can be named as four core practices that may come alive in congregations, contexts for ministry and other places of Christian gathering. The acronym CARE stands for:
- C - Create space to explore Christian vocation together;
- A - Ask self-awakening questions;
- R - Reflect theologically on self and community; and
- E - Enact the next faithful step.
This combination of attentive stillness, conversation in the context of story-telling (or testimony and holy listening), reflection, engagement of the body and design has become a wellspring for those engaging it in re-imagining their ministry context and the gifts of everyone within those contexts, or in starting new ministries.
This series of contemplative and conversational and visioning practices, with the added element of a design studio, enables teams to create blueprints of how they will implement the work they sense they are given to do by God when they re-engage their field of ministry practice. These same practices have opened profound visioning space of vocational imagination for individuals who have, among other things, re-purposed older retreat models for young adults, engaged envigorating worship spaces for churches and campus ministries and brought to bear these practices in their places of work and study.
We have seen these practices at work in addressing the nature of forming and calling new leaders for the church. We have also seen VocationCARE at work in the context of the work of church vestries, diocesan commissions, Episcopal Service Corps other volunteer communities and neighborhood ministries. Their flexible character makes them a welcome guide to the various social intersections of church and community life an we only anticipate that, with the addition practitioners, VocationCARE will be enacted in numerous and varied byways yet to be foreseen.
When congregational or ministry teams or individuals practice VocationCARE they tap into a deep collective heart force that we call leadership, or compassionate engagement. The Source for this is within each of us by virtue of our Baptism. It is to that original call that these practices ultimately relate. Our age has yet to discover to the full what a deep pool the mystery of our Baptism introduces us. VocationCARE is dedicated to unlocking and further grounding us in that mystery.