In this week’s edition: what we are learning as the pandemic persists. Former Alban Senior Consultant Susan Beaumont writes about five assumptions about congregational life that are failing us now. Adam Russell Taylor from Sojourners asks us to reflect on what the pandemic is teaching us about the kind of leadership that matters most. And, in the midst of what we are learning about congregations, we remember what matters most. Mycal Brickhouse reflects on the death of his grandmother, his “Momma,” from COVID-19.


Five assumptions failing us now

Five assumptions failing us now

“We need to sit in the uncertainty of not knowing for a while yet, as our new normal takes shape. While we wait, we can challenge the old assumptions and work to form better questions about our next chapter.” – Susan Beaumont

The pandemic has challenged five long-standing assumptions about belonging, engagement and membership. As Susan Beaumont says, no doubt you can name others, but these five are worth paying attention to.


Adam Russell Taylor: Pandemics have a lot to teach us about those who lead us

Pandemics have a lot to teach us about those who lead us

The executive director of Sojourners, Adam Russell Taylor, helps us think about the kind of leadership that the country and our congregations need now. His is an unflinching indictment of what we have experienced but also a message of hope of what’s possible – if leaders will listen and learn.


Resources to respond to the coronavirus


COVID-19 should remind us that life is holy, not disposable

COVID-19 should remind us that life is holy, not disposable

The author Paul Brodeur once said that “statistics are human beings with the tears wiped away.” Almost 200,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19; more than 900,000 have died globally. As a whole, those numbers are hard to imagine. Pastor and writer Mycal Brickhouse puts a human face on the grief of COVID-19 as remembers his “Momma,” who died of the virus on July 12, 2020.


From the Alban Library

How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

By Susan Beaumont

How to Lead When You Don't Know Where You're Going

How do you lead an organization stuck between an ending and a new beginning –when the old way of doing things no longer works but a way forward is not yet clear? Beaumont calls such in-between times liminal seasons – threshold times when the continuity of tradition disintegrates and uncertainty about the future fuels doubt and chaos. In a liminal season it simply is not helpful to pretend we understand what needs to happen next. But leaders can still lead.

How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going is a practical book of hope for tired and weary leaders who risk defining this era of ministry in terms of failure or loss. It helps leaders stand firm in a disoriented state, learning from their mistakes and leading despite the confusion. Packed with rich stories and real-world examples, Beaumont guides the reader through practices that connect the soul of the leader with the soul of the institution.


Before you go…

Later this year, we will publish an edition of the Alban Weekly about starting ministry in a new setting during the pandemic. If you have moved to a new congregation or a new ministry during these strange months, we want to hear what you learned. Send us an email at alban@duke.edu

Until next week, peace!

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

More on this topic

Finding renewal this summer

In the United States, last...