Behind the Curtain at the SEC Annual Spring Retreat

As devoted Lent Madness fans will know, Tim and Scott (a.k.a. the Supreme Executive Committee) meet every spring to unpack and contextualize the previous Lent Madness and engage in vision-casting and missional strategy for the next year.

This year’s meeting is taking place at various coffee shops in and around Cincinnati. The meeting began with the gentle sound of a Tibetan prayer bowl inviting relationship with the Spirit and/or spirits. After Tim and Scott removed their shoes, they proceeded to “check in” while in the Lotus position at a prie-dieu so as to integrate Christian spirituality into the global context in an entrepreneurial fashion. Both Tim and Scott shared their public narrative about their ministry settings from strengths-based perspectives, taking care to map their assets.

Once they were fully present to one another, they spoke into the circle of trust while reviewing the previous year’s minutes. Using “I statements” they corrected the minutes. For example, “I feel that there should be a comma in the third sentence.” In order to prevent deforestation and respect the dignity of Staples, they used PowerPoint to review the minutes.

Two hours passed, and it was time for a fresh contextual check-in to process their insights. Assured of growth in emotional intelligence and personal well-being, they mindfully moved into African Bible Study of the temptation in the wilderness. Following Bible Study, they enjoyed an ecologically sustainable, free-range lunch (that died a natural death).

Later, they opened themselves to the movement of the Spirit and/or spirits to begin to discern the 2015 bracket of Lent Madness. This was done both in plenary and small groups, with frequent reporting back. Tim and Scott made use of the latest techniques for writing down the names with both markers and brightly colored dots.

At this time, to preserve confidentiality, Tim and Scott are unable to reveal any details. However, we have a few photos to share. Stay tuned for news from the SEC tomorrow, but don’t expect to see a bracket.

For now, the SEC is resting after compline — and a lively hour-long debate over who would officiate at said office.


Tim and Scott search for an undisclosed, secure, marble-clad location
Searching for Secure Location

The SEC pores over the nominations

The SEC attempts to use modern art as a source of inspiration, with mixed results
SEC looking for Saints

Is there any Wisdom to be found in the fountain?
Wisdom in Water?

Though they are ineligible for the bracket, Tim and Scott check to see if they can glean anything from Jesus or Mary
Mary Jesus and SEC

Last photo by Faith Lang. All others by Sherilyn Pearce.

59 Comments to "Behind the Curtain at the SEC Annual Spring Retreat"

  1. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    June 25, 2014 - 10:11 pm | Permalink

    You can’t fool me by hiding behind the greenery I’d know those all-but-tonsured heads anywhere!
    And you get to go to Compline you lucky so and so’s.
    Peace out,

  2. June 25, 2014 - 10:17 pm | Permalink

    It is posts like this that not only give me hope for the future of the Episcopal church and the entire Christian faith, but make me laugh ice tea through my nose. Thank you for using your talents this way!

  3. Matthew Cowden's Gravatar Matthew Cowden
    June 25, 2014 - 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe I actually read the whole thing.

  4. Karolen's Gravatar Karolen
    June 25, 2014 - 10:21 pm | Permalink

    LOL–can’t believe I’m already looking forward to Lent 2015—

  5. Anne Ryan's Gravatar Anne Ryan
    June 25, 2014 - 10:23 pm | Permalink

    So grateful for all the work that goes into creating Lent Madness. Thank you, thank you. Looking forward to 2015.

  6. June 25, 2014 - 10:25 pm | Permalink

    I can only think of one reply, after seeing the first picture.

  7. linda's Gravatar linda
    June 25, 2014 - 10:36 pm | Permalink

    it just keeps getting better and better!

  8. Wanda's Gravatar Wanda
    June 25, 2014 - 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Looking forward to spending retreat time with half of the SEC this week end. I wonder if we can get anty bracket news.

  9. Wanda's Gravatar Wanda
    June 25, 2014 - 10:37 pm | Permalink

    That should be any bracket news.

  10. Celia Metz's Gravatar Celia Metz
    June 25, 2014 - 10:40 pm | Permalink

    OK guys, you neglected to mention having a sea change to acheive a paradigm shift!

  11. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    June 25, 2014 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

    OK… far so good. No petitions…no threats…no begging on bended knee. So, I’ll break the ice and say/write/whatever…Upon pain of death, do not cave into threats from anybody, inclusive of the “Peace out” lady, requesting that you add Mr. Rogers to next year’s bracket. Promise me , oh mighty SEC, that you will not acquiesce and give in….Be strong, be valiant, be brave !!!

    • Linda T.'s Gravatar Linda T.
      June 26, 2014 - 5:04 am | Permalink


      • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
        June 26, 2014 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Say it, sistah! (With all due respect to the nice gentleman and all his loyal fans)

  12. Cindy Fleming's Gravatar Cindy Fleming
    June 25, 2014 - 11:07 pm | Permalink

    No sweat lodge???!!

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      June 26, 2014 - 2:14 am | Permalink

      Or at least burn some sage to smudge the room. Don’t want any evil spirits interfering with the work of the SEC.

  13. kristy's Gravatar kristy
    June 25, 2014 - 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Is height important? Does modern art clarify ancient thought? How about Cincinnati? Was the plant true or false?

  14. June 25, 2014 - 11:46 pm | Permalink

    I smell Dungeons and Dragons…

  15. Marlayna's Gravatar Marlayna
    June 25, 2014 - 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I was just thinking the other day that I was starting to experience the symptoms of LMW…This helped immensely.

  16. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    June 26, 2014 - 12:17 am | Permalink

    And here I thought I’d outlived all that squishy talk.
    But this post reminds me of being part of a large group that operated by consensus–not majority, not unanimity, but consensus. Our nearest-thing-we-had-to-a-leader defined “consensus” as “anything that doesn’t make anybody [throw up].” (The leader used a slightly more earthy term.) Sounds like you guys are trying to find consensus.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      June 26, 2014 - 12:18 am | Permalink

      Sorry–reach consensus. (It’s been a while.)

  17. Lynn's Gravatar Lynn
    June 26, 2014 - 12:28 am | Permalink

    That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

  18. Maryann's Gravatar Maryann
    June 26, 2014 - 6:14 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe I fell for it. How about a real retreat.? What is a Tibetian prayer bowl? I think I need one.

  19. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    June 26, 2014 - 6:23 am | Permalink

    Well good morning Aleathia, it’s a beautiful day in the Neighborhood and I’m certain that Eddie Murphy would agree.
    Peace Out,
    Madeleine 🙂

  20. Scott Petersen's Gravatar Scott Petersen
    June 26, 2014 - 7:09 am | Permalink

    Wait a second! I was so pleased to read that the SEC takes such care to prepare for such ministry. I was pleased until I began to suspect trickery indeed… One can’t do Lotus at a prie- dieu. I think we’ll have to form a episcopal commission to investigate.

    • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
      June 26, 2014 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

      You can, but it involves balancing on the knees in an advanced positioin known as a prie-dieu-knot.

      • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
        June 26, 2014 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Owww, that sounds painful!!!

  21. Sue Donym's Gravatar Sue Donym
    June 26, 2014 - 7:34 am | Permalink

    I find this oh so affirming! But have you thought to consider and live into your growing edges? Thanks for the humor

  22. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    June 26, 2014 - 7:35 am | Permalink

    Oh, how you do delight! We had a celebration at Trinity (Branford) last
    Sunday afternoon, a seaside Victorian Garden Party for the Founding Members of our new Legacy Society. Obviously we share concerns about the future of the Church. Your hysterical/brilliant approach belongs on network tv. Meanwhile, let us know when you come to town (maybe Battell) and we’ll take you to Mory’s! (Write a song for the Whiffs and we’ll try to get them to sing it on a Monday night there.)

  23. Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
    June 26, 2014 - 7:57 am | Permalink

    The thought of vegetables that have died a natural death is frightening.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      June 26, 2014 - 8:11 am | Permalink

      Indeed it is. FR wouldn’t like it either……

  24. Kandy T's Gravatar Kandy T
    June 26, 2014 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I love you people.

  25. Carol Ann Webb's Gravatar Carol Ann Webb
    June 26, 2014 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    What a delightful way to start the day! I love satire and irony and the SEC!

  26. Cush's Gravatar Cush
    June 26, 2014 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    Wonderful way to start the day… LM deprivation is hard to survive . . .

  27. Caroline's Gravatar Caroline
    June 26, 2014 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    Y’all make my day!

  28. Mary Robert's Gravatar Mary Robert
    June 26, 2014 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    Oh my gosh! I am laughing so hard that I can no longer read all this out loud to my boss (the Rector), who now realizes the error of his ways and will join Lent Madness next year. (He is secretly jealous that I had more fun this past Lent than he did.)

  29. JAMG's Gravatar JAMG
    June 26, 2014 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    What now countdown?

  30. JAMG's Gravatar JAMG
    June 26, 2014 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    Sorry that should have been ‘no countdown.’

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      June 26, 2014 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

      That’s okay, I like the rhyme:
      What now, countdcwn?
      Are you the best game around?
      Is it better than getting down?
      Are people doing it all over town?
      Shall we now begin to count down?
      Even to the official count down?
      I’m down with this countdcwn!

  31. June 26, 2014 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    Phwew! I missed the use of the word “missional” on the first reading and had to go back and read it again – I was so afraid you’d forgotten it! Thank goodness I was wrong.

  32. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    June 26, 2014 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

    You guys put a smile on my face! Looking forward to more updates.

  33. June 26, 2014 - 1:44 pm | Permalink

    So glad I subscribed to Lent Madness. I can always count on you to provide a good laugh and several chuckles.

  34. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    June 26, 2014 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    It seems a shame that at least one pub is not included – can we organize a Lent Madness Pub Crawl – can show our devotion and enjoy a micro brew (or glass of wine) while mulling over topics dear to the Spirit.

  35. June 26, 2014 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Love the humorous comments, esp. referring to Arte Johnson. Hadn’t thought of him in 20 years. We do have a winery and a microbrew in Bastrop….

  36. Nancy Hause's Gravatar Nancy Hause
    June 26, 2014 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Still annoyed at you for closing down the nomination process so quickly–thought it showed an Eastern bias (anything east of St. Louis is “Eastern”) against those of us in the west who take awhile to marshal our thoughts. But happy to see that the SEC is alive and as well as it has ever been. (This is well?)

  37. Lynell's Gravatar Lynell
    June 26, 2014 - 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Love you two! We are searching for a new rector either of you fancy east Texas?

  38. linda's Gravatar linda
    June 26, 2014 - 8:44 pm | Permalink

    you 2 could have a TV show. kind of like the Odd Couple only with churchy stuff….

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      June 26, 2014 - 8:52 pm | Permalink

      “Can these two preachers live together without driving each other crazy?”………
      I tend to think not……

  39. Leigh Hollis-Caruso's Gravatar Leigh Hollis-Caruso
    June 26, 2014 - 10:45 pm | Permalink


    First of all I noticed right off that the average height of the SEC must be 5’7. And secondly, I can’t wait to meet you, Scott at the Iowa Ministries Retreat tomorrow. Alas, I don’t have any kitsch for you to autograph!!

  40. Phil Harrington's Gravatar Phil Harrington
    June 26, 2014 - 11:38 pm | Permalink

    For shame!

    Should you not be using LM mugs when circulating Cincinnati? Think not only of the paper cups wasted but the publicity opportunities now down the toilet!

  41. kristy's Gravatar kristy
    June 27, 2014 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    I just realized that the original post was on June 25th, six months before Christmas. Are we going to forget the rest of the year, and live only for Lent? What about the other seasons and celebrations? The saints we enjoy during Lent Madness served God all the time.

  42. Joe Stroud's Gravatar Joe Stroud
    June 27, 2014 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    Thankfully, you did NOT mention outsourcing any of the SEC’s personnel resources, especially to any offshore locations. And, as with most committees, I find it entirely appropriate that the SEC debated for an hour on who would officiate a 15 minute service.

  43. Joe Stroud's Gravatar Joe Stroud
    June 27, 2014 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Hmmm, guess that should have been “human” resources. . . .

  44. Patricia Nakamura's Gravatar Patricia Nakamura
    June 27, 2014 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    THIS picture we need to see: in the Lotus position at a prie-dieu .

  45. June 27, 2014 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    I love you guys. Thanks for the update.

  46. Fleetwood Range's Gravatar Fleetwood Range
    June 27, 2014 - 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh, gag! I have had, in my long life, all the corporate/churchy/psychgoo gobbledygook talk I think I’ll ever be able to stand. How did you manage to collect so much of it into one small piece? Nevertheless, I love Lenten Madness and the zaniness of you two. Keep me in the loop, please.

  47. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    June 28, 2014 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    While the rest of the world goes to hell in a handbasket, our SEC considers our needs, that’s the LENT MADNESS-SEC of varied heighths and temperaments. I loved the blurb about them taking an hour to decide who’d officiate a fifteen minute service. That’s our SEC for ya ! There are folk at the Cathedral where I serve as deacon who envy my yearly participation and I figure it’s their problem as everybody knows about it if they’re still on this side of the dirt. However, I don’t think East Texas is ready for them as parish priests…mayhaps I’m wrong but the lotus position at the prie-dieu in that neighborhood ????? Keep at it, Padres…’s a looooooong time ’til next Lent.

  48. Louise Larson's Gravatar Louise Larson
    June 28, 2014 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait for the 2015 bracket! And my nominee had better make it!!! Who would have thought we would all be looking forward to Lent…better than Christmas; at least until the retailers catch on!

Comments are closed.