Susan Beaumont believes the soul is the authentic and truest self of the institution; the source of its divine calling, and character; the protector of institutional integrity.
“Tending institutional soul requires nurturing organizational effectiveness and spiritual wholeness as one,” Beaumont wrote in a blog post entitled: “Tending The Soul of the Institution.”
Beaumont will be a guest speaker at the 2017 Bishop’s Clergy Convocation at the Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch on January 23-25. She has demonstrated expertise in the leadership dynamics of large congregations, offering consulting, coaching and educational support to help congregations more effectively engage their mission in the world.
An adviser, author, coach, and spiritual director, Beaumont has consulted with over a hundred congregations and denominational bodies across the U.S. and Canada. She is especially known for her ground-breaking work in the leadership dynamics of large congregations. Having worked as a Senior Consultant with the Alban Institute, Beaumont served on the faculty of two business schools, teaching graduate level courses in leadership, management and organizational behavior. She has consulted with nonprofit and corporate clients in leadership development and change management.
The core values that guide Beaumont’s consulting relationships are focusing mission, strengthening covenant, balancing health, aligning resources, sharing leadership, building on the positive, and inviting discernment.
In a blog post, Beaumont writes about a vibrant and impactful church with declining membership facing a life-changing decision about the future of its building.
“Leaders of the congregation began by deepening their knowledge and skill base,” wrote Beaumont. “They sought out best practices, attended workshops and researched the ins and outs of real estate, finance and property management.”
She describes how organizational capacity was enhanced by bringing in wisdom of architects, property managers and investment managers which gave leaders a sound understanding of issues and options.
“But they were stuck in finding a solution that would align the congregation with its history, its mission and the voice of membership,” she writes. “Finally, leaders paused to consider the institutional soul.”
Through a process of journaling and guided prayer, the church leaders emptied themselves of the biases and assumptions that had accumulated during their study. They hosted listening circles to discern the congregation’s orientation to its space, pausing and praying. The leaders asked themselves questions about the sacredness of place and dwelled on what it meant to befriend the soul of the community through each of their options.
“In the midst of this soul-tending work, a way forward began to coalesce,” said Beaumont. “Leaders sold a small parcel of property at the edge of campus and used the proceeds to reduce their mortgage so that debt became manageable for the present membership base.”
An exciting and vibrant chapter for the church followed. Beaumont used the illustration to highlight four critical dimensions of organizational soul-tending work: cultivating collective wisdom, clarifying vocation, unbinding memory and deepening discernment.
“Tending the soul of the institution is more than a simple call to prayer,” writes Beaumont. “It requires more than slapping a scripture verse on top of good business practice. It is more than understanding the culture, strategy and spirituality of a congregation.”
According to Beaumont, soul-tending requires basic leadership orientations that “may seem at odds with traditional practices of leadership.”
“Nurturing the soul-tending capacity of our leaders takes intentionality, time and attention,” Beaumont writes. “The payoff is greater authenticity in decision making and the genuine transformation of our congregations.”
The 2017 Bishop’s Clergy Convocation invites clergy to a special time of renewal, learning and fellowship. The cost includes registration fee, workbook, two-night stay, and five meals. For more information and to register, visit: gnjumc.org/2017bishopsconvocation