Discover the unique story God wants to tell through your congregation.
Get ideas, inspiration and tools for ministry.
Enjoy the support of interactive workshops and ongoing coaching.
Pray, learn and walk together with other CNY congregations.

What’s it all about?

Thirty-one congregations in Central New York are entering a new stage of discernment through the Learning Communities Initiative in 2018.

Each participating congregation will be discerning their unique answer to this question: “When you consider the gifts you have been given and the needs of our world, what future do you imagine God is bringing forth in our midst?” The answer needs to come from Christ and our willingness to ask hard questions and listen for answers, as well as our ability to take risks, secure in our standing in Christ.

What is a Learning Community?

A learning community is a group of congregations who commit to one another in a nine-month learning experience. Through prayer, skill-building, action and reflection they address their most pressing questions about the future.

The experience includes three Saturday workshops and ongoing coaching calls with diocesan leaders and Dwight Zscheile (author of The Agile Church) and Michael Binder.

How will my congregation benefit?

  • Train effective lay spiritual leaders through workshops and coaching.
  • Learn to discern and respond to God’s leading.
  • Deepen your congregation’s spirituality.
  • Build connections with other congregations.
  • Engage and inspire your membership.
  • Affirm your faith that God has a vital role for your congregation to play.


Watch: Michael Curry (now Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church) interviews Dwight Zscheile

Watch: Insights for the New Reformation with Bethany Ringdal, student of Dwight Zscheile

Watch: Dwight Zscheile’s Address to the 149th Diocesan Convention

2018 Training Workshops

Agile Leadership: Begin by Asking Different Questions Saturday, February 24, 2018
Learn by Doing: Using Action Learning to Discover God’s Leading Saturday, June 2, 2018
Sharing Our Learning: Intentional Reflection on Our Actions Saturday, September 29, 2018


Initiative Information

Handouts & Tools


Diocesan Coordinating Team 


The team receives a blessing at our 149th Diocesan Convention. 

Ms. Carol Forrester, Team Leader

Ms. Bambi Carkey
The Rev. Brooks Cato
The Rev. Canon John Crosswaite
Ms. Kathy Dengler
Ms. Patricia Kinney



The Rev. Dwight Zscheile, Ph.D.

Dwight Zscheile is associate professor of congregational mission and leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and a consultant with churches and other non-profit organizations. He also serves part-time as associate priest at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul. He is author of Participating in God’s Mission: A Theological Missiology for the Church in America (with Craig Van Gelder, forthcoming, Eerdmans), The Agile Church: Spirit-Led Innovation in an Uncertain Age (Morehouse Publishing, 2014), People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity (Morehouse Publishing, 2012) and The Missional Church in Perspective: Mapping Trends and Shaping the Conversation (with Craig Van Gelder, Baker Academic 2011) and editor of Cultivating Sent Communities: Missional Spiritual Formation (Eerdmans, 2012). A graduate of Stanford University (BA), Yale University (MDiv) and Luther Seminary (PhD, Congregational Mission and Leadership), he previously served congregations in Virginia and Connecticut. Dwight’s experience growing up in a secular home in California has shaped his commitment to helping the church cultivate Christian community with new populations and generations in today’s changing world.

Michael Binder headshot

The Rev. Michael Binder, Ph.D.

Michael Binder is the Pastor of Teaching and Vision at Mill City Church in Northeast Minneapolis. Michael helped to found Mill City Church in 2008 with a focus on neighborhood ministry. Michael has a Ph.D. from Luther Seminary in the area of congregational mission and leadership. He consults with congregations and denominations in the U.S. and Canada. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three kids.

The Guiding Team

Every congregation participating in the Learning Communities initiative will identify a Guiding Team of four to six members. The Guiding Team is the conduit through which the congregation as a whole is invited to participate in the Learning Community. Guiding Team members will receive coaching on how to engage others in their congregations in activities and learning throughout the process.

Congregational Coaches

A congregational coach helps supports a participating congregation’s Guiding Team. Coaches help participants take the steps in the Learning Communities Initiative process, serving as an encourager and accountability partner for the parish.

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