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Academy of Artful Leadership Empowers Women Clergy

Contributed by: The Rev. Joanna Hollis

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Women-clergy-led wedding of the rector of Trinity Church, Santa Barbara

The photos in this article are two of my favorite pictures in all of my ministry. The first one is a picture during the Eucharistic prayer of the entirely women-clergy-led wedding of the rector of Trinity Church, Santa Barbara, where I was an associate several years ago. The second one is from 2018 at the Black clergy women gathering the night prior to Bishop Carlye Hughes’ consecration.

Both of these photos remain powerful in my life as a priest. They remind me that the face of the church is changing with more than 39 percent of all compensated clergy in the domestic Episcopal church being women-identified, according to the 2019 Clergy Compensation Report. The pictures also remind me of the importance of sisterhood in all aspects of life—true sisterhood in which women and women-identified persons gather in community as their whole selves, leaving no part of themselves behind, even those parts of ourselves that we have been taught we need to downplay or eliminate altogether because they do not fit into what success looks like a patriarchal society and church.

Black clergy women gather the night prior to Bishop Carlye Hughes’ (seated on left) consecration in 2018

As women clergy, we are in a unique position in a dramatically changing world where more and more women are finding and using their voices, stepping into leadership and forging new ways of being. At the same time, we also have chosen not only to participate in, but to be leaders in the very institution, while begun with good intentions, that has been a major part of the oppression of women and that many people (not just women) have abandoned.

Let’s be honest. How many of us have thought about this and have wondered how we came to be clergy leaders in this particular time and place and in this particular branch of the Jesus movement? How many of us have wondered how can we, as women-identified persons, serve God, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and minister alongside God’s people with integrity and faith in the church?

According to the 2019 Clergy Compensation Report for Domestic Dioceses, 40 percent of all compensated clergy identify as women

Sisters, we are leaders during a time when the church has had no choice but to reevaluate what it means to be church, when all clergy have been forced to rethink what it means to live into their vocations as pastor, teacher, administrator and follower of the Way of Jesus. We all have had to rethink what discipleship looks like when community gathers in the virtual world. There is no better time than now to gather in sisterhood, to tap into our own unique feminine wisdom, and to step even more deeply and bravely into this sacred vocation to which we have chosen to give our lives. There is no better time, with God’s help, to reflect on and maybe even change how we lead and how we approach discipleship.

Starting in mid-September and over a span of eight months, I will be offering, through the Diocese of New Jersey and the Academy of Artful Leadership, a series of eight facilitated group conversations where we will tap into our unique styles of leadership, using all of who we are and all that we know both intuitively and from our training and experience in order to explore important themes of ministry such as life-giving spiritual and adaptive leadership, disruption as a holy opportunity, enhancing small group ministry, empowering lay leadership and more. Each group session will have a small amount of homework to do prior to attending each group session and will include honest conversations about women in ministry and how we each can tap into our feminine leadership even in a patriarchal church.

Each participant will also have six, 50-minute one-on-one coaching session with me! You will set the agenda for each session so that you can be supported by in the specific work or challenges you would want to focus on.

The value of this program is $990. However, participants will only be asked to contribute $490—which can be paid over time (we encourage you to use your continuing education funds for this). The Coaching Network of the Diocese of New Jersey will pick up the rest!

I have worked with coaches where an individual session costs well over $100 per hour. I truly believe that $490 for eight months of excellent coaching is worth the investment for something that will transform your life and ministry forever.

There are only six spots in this program, and so I hope that you will schedule a 30-minute exploratory call with me! It’s free and there is no commitment. Please use this link to schedule one:

Schedule an Exploratory Call

You can also register on my web site here.

In the meantime, here is some practical information for you to consider:

Group Coaching Sessions
Wednesday mornings 9 am-10:30 am: September 22, October 20, November 10, December 15, January 19, February 9, March 16, April 27

50-minute One-on-one Coaching Sessions (6 total)

To be scheduled with individual participants

Themes we will cover:

  • Life-giving spiritual leadership
  • Life-giving adaptive leadership
  • Disruption as a Holy opportunity
  • The importance of vision and the power of SMART goals
  • Enhancing small group ministry
  • Empowering lay leadership
  • Fresh expressions of worship
  • The coach approach to ministry

Registration ends on Friday, September 17

About Joanna

Greetings! I am Joanna Hollis, and I am an Episcopal priest and a Congregational Coach from the Diocese of New Jersey. I am a mother to one, a partner to one, a runner, singer and lover of all things Divine Feminine. I offer my clients a nonjudgmental and compassionate space to explore their truths and find clarity in their lives. I believe that my clients, in their deep knowing, already have the answers they seek and that they can come to those answers with gentle guidance and honest conversations. I work with both groups and individuals and help my clients move and take actions towards their goals within the congregational context and beyond.