Friday afternoon, the Academy for Leadership Excellence announced that it will transform into a new Center for Leadership Excellence under Connectional Ministries of the North Carolina Conference. This center will continue the work of the Academy and also guide the leadership efforts of offices within the North Carolina Conference. Bishop Ward spoke about the similar visions and techniques of the Academy and the Conference.
Leah Wiebe-Smith, Associate Director of the Academy, was introduced as the Director of the new Center for Leadership Excellence. She spoke about what she has learned from her service to the Academy and her enthusiasm for continuing this work with the Conference.
The Academy for Leadership Excellence has offered outstanding events and programs to grow the leadership of ecumenical clergy and laity in North Carolina. Larry Coats, founding board member, gave thanks to all who have supported the Academy since its inception in 2008. During this time, the Academy trained participants in 37 Days of Learning, 39 churches and 280 clergy and laity in Project Bountiful, 70 churches and 140 fellows in Leadership Fellows, three years and 700 attendees of the Preaching Festival, five years and 160 attendees of Large Church Pastors/Staff Retreats, and 21 Transitional Intentional Interim Ministers.
In May 2017, Project Bountiful was completed. This visionary program saw the revitalization of 48 rural churches and communities across the NC Conference with partial funding from the Duke Endowment.
The Academy also graduated a class of 20 Leadership Fellows. The Leadership Fellows Program operated on a two-year cycle where clergy and laity were trained in practical skills in personal and church leadership.