HI! My name is Laura Ahrens and I am really excited to be a part of this course! I serve as the Bishop Suffragan in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT). I have been the Bishop in Connecticut for 10 years. ECCT encompasses the entire state of Connecticut and includes 168 parishes. As the Bishop Suffragan I serve with the lead Bishop called a Bishop Diocesan.One of my particular interests is working with parishes as they explore the changing landscape of the Episcopal Church in the United States in the 21st century. This changing landscape includes decreased church attendance in some settings and less financial resources available for ministry. These changes can lead to conflict.

My ministry focuses on connecting people to resources and tools that can help them explore new life together. These conversations often begin by seeking to strengthen the relationships of the lay and ordained leadership in congregations. The chapter by Evelin Linder (Chapter 12), Emotion and Conflict: Why It Is Important to Understand How Emotions Affect Conflict and How Conflict Affects Emotions, which we are to read for July 24th relates directly to the types of conversations I seek to have with congregations.

As I have prepared for this course, the readings have opened my imagination to a much broader global context of peace and reconciliation work. As I have read about institutions working together for peace, I see many similarities with the collaborative work I try to encourage in CT. I often seek to connect congregations to local service organizations and others involved in peace work outside of the church. The article we are to read for July 26, Untaming aid through action research: Seeking transformative reflective action by Alfredo Ortiz Aragon and Kent Glenzer speaks directly to the type of local context relationship building I hope to encourage.

My ministry globally has primarily been one of a visitor and listener. I have visited Ecuador, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Colombia, Rome, Scotland and England in my role as Bishop in the Episcopal Church. When I was in Rome, I was blessed to make one particular connection that deeply moved my heart. (Photo) My hope is that in taking this course, I find some tools to move deeper into this global work. I look forward to meeting and learning from all of you!