Lamb's ear is to the garden as church leaders are to their congregation.

Consultant's Professional Background

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Charlotte Weaver-Gelzer, facilitator and development consultant, founder of Lamb's Ear Consulting
  • Certified by the nationally recognized congregation development agency, Church Development Institute, led by Bob Gallagher, OA.
  • Member, Interim Ministry Network
  • Study of retreat ministry with Barbara Crafton at General Theological Seminary in New York.
  • Study of pastoral ministry with John Westerhoff at General Theological Seminary .
  • Study of formation for spiritual direction with Margaret Guenther at Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY.
  • Consulting experience with congregations in the ECUSA, the PCUSA, and with Church Women United.
  • Degrees from Wilson College and Georgetown University.
  • Publication nationally including short stories, youth musicals, and a novel, In the Time of Trouble (EP Dutton 1993).
  • Work in progress:  a biography-memoir of an American school in Egypt and a novel of politics and revolution set in Ethiopia.
  • Transnational worldview, MK/TCK childhood, growing up and attending school in Cameroon, Egypt and Ethiopia, the daughter of PCUSA missionaries.
  • Currently resides with husband in Lancaster, PA, serving on Vestry at St. John's Episcopal Church.

A Definition of Congregation Development

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Congregation development has a number of definitions. For me, above all definitions is the mystery and truth of a parish or congregation being the Body of Christ. Change and growth in one part of the body will affect all other parts. When a congregation decideds to grow or develop in one area, the leaders must have the whole organization in mind or what happens next will be unexpected and easily misunderstood.
Having received my graduate level training in the field from The Church Development Institute and Bob Gallagher, I quote his definition, from his book, Fill All Things, The Dynamics of Spirituality in the Parish Church, Ascension Press, 2008 (The Episcopal Resource Center, P.O. Box 1190, Fayetteville, AR 72702).
"Congregational development as a field of study and category of action emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The major contributor to its appearance was the work of Loren Mead and Project Test Pattern (PTP), which later developed into the Alban Institute. The Church Development Institute (CDI) created a training program that includes organizational development but has integrated ecclesiology, pastoral theology, and ascetical theology. …it is a field of competency with trained practitioners who serve the church in many roles. …Everything that impacts the parish's health and its ability to form people in Christ is related to the field." (p.14-15)

What Others are Saying about Lamb's Ear Consulting

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"This approach allows everyone to have a voice. We learned to see and hear ourselves as we wouldn’t have, without outside leadership. We learned to trust each other and to plan effectively, expecting to be accountable to each other."
Elaine Thomas
Church Growth Task Force,
St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Lancaster, PA

"Whether a family-sized or a corporate sized church, any congregation will benefit greatly from the leadership training offered by Lamb's Ear Consulting."
The Rev. Victor J. Thomas
Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Houston, TX

"The Lamb's Ear Consulting process provides a transformational journey leading toward long-term change and development of leaders at a very deep level."
The Rev. James W. Hanna
Former Director, The Samaritan Counseling Center, Lancaster, PA.

"Applying the practice and skills of Lamb's Ear Consulting changes the worshipping community from the ground up."
The Rev. Jessee Neat
Rector, Church of the Ascension, Frankfort, KY

Agencies Lamb's Ear Consulting supports with annual donations:

www.amnesty.org
Amnesty International

www.abundantwaterskids.org
Abundant Waters After School Program in New York City

http://www.africanactiononaids.org/mission.php
African Action on AIDS, a development agency for youth affected by AIDS in subSaharan Africa.

http://www.umaria.co.za
Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery, Grahamstown, South Africa Order of the Holy Cross

Lamb's Ear Mission

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This consulting agency offers practical learning help for
  • Church leaders and congregations looking for fresh, effective ways of becoming faithful Christian communities
  • Congregations wanting to strengthen and improve community life and the quality of leadership work
  • Congregations moving through times of transition imagining and preparing for the future
  • Congregations in transition
  • Congregations developing special initiatives and planned change
  • Congregations in chaos
  • Congregations and leaders in need of facilitation help
  • Congregations and leaders matching priorities and budget

Named for the Lowly Woundwort

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Lambs Ear in Garden Lamb's Ear, stachys lanata, is a low-growing perennial used in gardens for balance of color and connection between diverse groups of plants. The silvery green color provides a restful, appealing place for the eye. The plant's main feature is its vigorous root system. Lamb's ear propagates by root, not by seed. Its dense, fibrous matting of roots sustains the plant's habit of growing in clusters.

The complex root system provides plentiful nourishment during drought, and protects the whole plant from any damage to root or leaf at any single point. The plants have a separateness of leaf, but cannot survive without connection to each other. Neither can a single root of Lamb's ear be planted, as if to survive and develop the communal root system on its own.

The plant is not known for fruit or flower. Its early English name is Woundwort, describing the soft, absorbent qualities of leaf which made it a valuable herb in dressing wounds before woven cloth became more easily available for bandages. The plant flourishes in usual conditions, and will spread easily in rich soil. Varieties of stachys lanata are found growing all around the world, in both northern and southern hemispheres.


The Making of a Church Consulting Agency

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The Beginning in Silence

This consulting agency has its roots in a silent retreat conducted by Madeleine l'Engle in 1977. I was an Elder serving on a Presbyterian Session at the time, and during the retreat I was struck by the power of silence held in common among a group of Christians. I found astonishing strength and resilience from silence in a group focused on understanding direction and purpose in decision-making. This made me think about leaders navigating the space they share between boundaries.

Growing in Collaboration

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Charlotte and Barbara Barbara Hutchinson and I began our work while we served together on a church staff. Over the next three years our ideas for leader training developed into Lamb's Ear Consulting. We wanted a name suggestive of a non-fruiting plant that gives support benefits to a garden. We were thinking of the similarities between a tended garden and the Christian community of worshipping and ministering members.
Leaders in the church do not provide the fruit, but must model the kind of community they hope their congregation to be, while providing the links which encourage and sustain members' own fruitfulness in ministry.

We observed in leadership work, as with lamb's ear in the garden, much is done in the places between. Leaders in discussion are between the perceived need and the discerned response; leaders in action are between the clergy and the congregation; leaders in conflict are between a rock and a hard place; leaders navigate between boundaries, spending most of their time in the space between their point of departure and the landing.
The consulting work we envisioned offers help to parish and church leaders in their work of faithfulness and change in the Christian community.
A note: all the photographs of lamb's ear on the website were taken in Barbara Hutchinson's Lancaster garden.

Drawn to Leaders' Needs

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More than 25 years after my initial vision for church leader development, I served on a church staff with the Rt. Rev. Ronald H. Haines, 7th Bishop of Washington, Retired. He joined with me and Barbara Hutchinson in the early stages of designing our church consulting agency.
Bishop Haines was particularly interested in the needs of small churches, certain of their significance to the health of Christian witness in the 21st century. He believed that leaders and members could be changed and made whole in a disciplined focus on being in communion, and he saw great potential in our consulting design. Bishop Haines' greatest contribution emphasized Lamb's Ear consulting work on prayer, the value of silence in the process of making decisions, and the training skills necessary for strong stewardship and fiscal responsibility.

Trained for Church Development

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Ron Haines With Bishop Haines' recommendation and encouragement, I attended CDI Deer Isle for training in church development consulting. Barbara Hutchinson, meanwhile, went off to seminary and was ordained, and is now rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. During Barbara's three years of seminary, Bishop Haines and I developed many aspects of the variety of consulting options now available through Lamb's Ear Consulting. Bishop Haines died untimely in 2008.