Strengthening Leadership and Supporting Our Communities

By Lori Hylton

The Synod’s Servant Leadership Institute (SLI) was officially launched and announced to the Synod community last month. To our delight, people were immediately excited and interested to learn more about the program.

You’ve had several questions: who is the program targeting; what is servant leadership; what are the goals of the program; how does one apply; and why do we need this program, to name a few. All very good questions. The most important of which is: why do we need this program? And the answer is simple; we need servant leadership because old styles of leadership are no longer effective for building and supporting the church we are today and that we will be in the future.

Styles of leadership that are top down and focused on an individual are not effective in the 21st Century church. The diversity of ages, cultures, worship styles, interests, stability, and genuine need, combined with a secular world that is in crisis, presents new leadership challenges. Our present and future leaders will need to have competencies in deep listening and the heart of a servant; leaders that are focused on building community through creative problem solving, collaborative strategy, and resilience.

The Synod aims to support our member ministries by strengthening the community of leaders within our bounds, enhancing their competencies, and thereby assisting presbyteries, congregations, and communities to flourish. The newly launched Servant Leadership Institute (SLI) will seek to develop, nurture, and deploy leaders that are committed to working collaboratively within and across the diverse communities of the Synod; leaders who will meet the complex challenges of being church in the 21st Century with creativity and ground-up perspectives.

The program’s areas of focus include relationship development and management, communication, creative problem solving, emotional intelligence, and resilience. While the SLI will pull some of its resources and models from the secular world, it is different from other leadership programs for two reasons: 1) a focus on our particular context here in the Northeast of being the oldest and most diverse expression of the Presbyterian Church and, 2) because our participants and leaders are entering into this sacred work with the goal of building the beloved community and grounding their work in spiritual reflection.

This program is open to both ordained and non-ordained members of our congregations who are providing leadership to ministries within the PC(USA) and who have a heart for serving and a desire to strengthen their leadership skills through deep self-reflection, authentic collaboration, and spiritual reflection.

The inaugural Servant Leadership Institute will run from September 2019 to October 2020. We are now seeking a cohort of 10 individuals who have exhibited leadership qualities and are eager to participate in this leadership development opportunity.

For more details and to apply, visit our dedicated page on the Synod website. Please note that the application deadline is Friday, May 24th, 2019.

Thanks for your interest! If you have further questions, feel free to contact Lori Hylton, who is serving as the SLI program coordinator.


Ruling Elder Lori Hylton is the Synod Administrative Coordinator and the program coordinator for the Servant Leadership Institute. She is currently serving on the session of the Palisades Presbyterian Church (Hudson River).