Loren B. Mead, an ordained Episcopal priest, is an educator, consultant, and author who works to strengthen religious institutions, especially local congregations. Loren has collaborated with lay people, clergy, executives and bishops, teachers and others committed to ministry. A pioneer in congregational studies, he brought together the methods of organization development consultation and applied research for working with congregations
As author, he published three best selling books on the future of the church, The Once and Future Church (1991), Transforming Congregations for the Future (1994), and Five Challenges for the Once and Future Church (1996). In addition to a number of articles and chapters in edited works, he is also the author of New Hope for Congregations (1972), Critical Moment of Ministry: The Change of Pastors (1987), The Whole Truth (1987), and More Than Numbers (1994). His most recent book is Financial Meltdown in the Mainline? – a book about the financial and spiritual dilemma of church financing, published in 1998.
He delivered the DuBose Lectures at St. Luke's School of Theology at the University of the South in 1980, the Cheyney Lectures at Yale Divinity School in 1986, and the H. Paul Douglass Lecture to the fiftieth joint meeting of the Religious Research Association and the Society for the Scientific Study in 1999.
In his work with churches, Loren has helped develop a number of resources now widely used -- the role and work of the interim pastor, the use of conflict management, the work on clergy stress and burnout, concepts of change and development in congregations and judicatory systems, and training methods for executives and bishops.
He has been concerned for the personal, professional, and spiritual development of lay and clergy leaders, and especially for the creative possibilities for churches and leaders at moments of transition in role. Loren has worked with local, regional, and national groups, with seminaries and church agencies in several dozen denominations in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Professionally, Loren Mead served as an Episcopal parish priest for fifteen years, then led that denomination's experimental "Project Test Pattern" for its full three year life. In 1974 he founded the Alban Institute, Inc., developing its national, multi-denominational work of research, publishing education, and consulting. When he stepped down from its presidency in 1994, the institute had a budget of $3,500,000 with 8,500 members. Since 1994 Loren has been consulting writing, and teaching independently. [Visit the Alban Institute Web Site]
Born in South Carolina, Loren received a BA from the University of the South and an MA from the University of South Carolina. After teaching in the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School for Adults for two years, Loren attended Virginia Theological Seminary and received his M.Div. He did additional graduate studies at the University of North Carolina (City and Regional Planning) and the University of Maine (Behavioral Sciences). In 1967 he was Fellow of the College of Preachers. Loren later received honorary degrees or citations from the University of the South,, Virginia Theological Seminary, Berkeley Divinity School, The Episcopal Divinity School, the Interim Pastor Network, and the Academy of Parish Clergy. In 1999 he was named the fifth recipient of the Henry Knox Sherrill Medal by the Episcopal Church Foundation.
Loren is married to the former Polly Ayres Mellette. They are the parents of four children, Walter Russell Mead of New York, Christopher Allen Mead of Oakton, VA, Barbara Mead Wise of Durham, NC, and Dr. Philip Sidney Mead of Philadelphia. They are grandparents of Elizabeth and Benjamin Wise, Loren and Nicholas Mead, and Katherine Mead.
A long distance swimmer, Loren annually participates in the Chesapeake Bay Swim-Race and, in 1991, with his son Walter swam the Hellespont.
Financial Meltdown in the Mainline? (1998)
Five Challenges for the Once and Future Church (1996)
Transforming Congregations for the Future (1994)
More Than Numbers (1993)
The Once and Future Church (1991)
The Whole Truth (1988)
Critical Moment of Ministry (1986)
The Parish Intervention Handbook, Editor (1972)
New Hope for Congregations (1972)
Email Loren at LorenMead@aol.com
Loren's Colleagues Speak Out:
Co-Director Hartford Institute for Religion Research
Leslie L. Buhler
Since the creative insights of Project Test Pattern in 1969, for this generation Loren Mead has articulated the cutting edge of creative thinking and practical guidance for churches everywhere.
As author, teacher, and consultant with a deep pastoral faith and rich imagination, Loren has named the problems and challenged leaders with action-research that has produced constructive alternatives.
Loren's genius is embodied in the creation and continuing significance of the Alban Institute and his wisdom is evident not only in his own writings, but in the publications of other scholars, such as his colleagues in the Congregational Studies Project Team.
Beyond the work of any living theologian, Loren's definitions of religious organizational practices are claimed by religious bodies throughout the English speaking world--Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Jew.
We are grateful for his influence in our institution for the past quarter century, for his contributions as member of the Hartford Institute Advisory Council, and for his continuing friendship across these years.
Alban Institute's 25th Anniversary Conference -- Tribute to Loren Mead
What a great pleasure it is to be here tonight with you all to celebrate Alban Institute's 25th anniversary. It is a night in which we honor and celebrate our history and eagerly eye our future.
The Institute’s history is like a tapestry, a tapestry of lives woven together by a very deep belief that God is present in and works through the local congregation. Each thread of Alban’s history carries its own story. Some people have been tightly bound to Alban while others have shed away. But all those who have gathered together at various points over time have brought their gifts to Alban, and, through Alban, have helped thousands of clergy and lay people across the country and abroad.
Tonight we honor those who wove the first threads. When I came to the Institute in 1981, the first person I met was Loren Mead. I found in Loren a person of incredible commitment and passion for the local congregation as a force of good in our society. Blessed with great wit and wisdom, through his personal magnetism Loren had founded the Institute in 1974 by weaving together a collection of lay and clergy. Loren’s ability to pull together people who thought outside of the box and give them incredible latitude to explore and work alone or together was invigorating. Joined by Celia Hahn, Roy Oswald, and Speed Leas, the Institute broke new ground in our perceptions of religious communities. The list of contributions these four people have made to local congregations and larger religious bodies, is lengthy and, quite frankly, astonishingly creative. Consultations and action research provided the warp for new ways of looking at and helping congregations flourish. Staff shared a belief that the people facing a particular problem in a congregation were those best suited to help discover new ways to understand that problem. When it comes to conflict management, visioning and planning, issues of transitions in clergy and congregational lives, the Institute is known as one the best in the field. We – and the thousands of congregations which they have helped - thank these four people for designing the tapestry and setting the warp.
George Allen Fowlkes
President Episcopal Church Foundation
Mead is a man "who has in every way given leadership and enrichment to countless people inside and outside of the Episcopal Church."
Excerpted From The Atlantic Monthly
[Click here to read the entire article]
I had a telephone conversation last spring with Loren Mead, a pioneering church consultant and the founder of The Alban Institute, an ecumenical think tank, in Bethesda, Maryland. Mead described his years of attendance at an Episcopal church in Washington that in the 1960s and 1970s was famous for breaking ground with its contemporary worship services. A Washingtonian and an Episcopalian, I remembered it too, as a place with guitars for sound and five-grain bread for the host and a fearless crusader against injustice for a priest.... Yet Mead and I--and Gleason, too--have long since returned to traditional, old-fashioned churches with eighteenth-century hymns and stained-glass windows and beautiful prayers we can recite without even thinking. Mead and I traded notes on the phone about the contemporary music we'd heard in the megachurches we'd visited.
"I could like it," he said, "but I have a feeling I couldn't like it long. It's like the Top Forty." He is comfortable now in the traditional church he has returned to in Washington. He said, "I like the familiarity. When I go to church, I'm going home in a way."
If you would like to add your comments about or experiences with Loren, email them to Carl Dudley at firstname.lastname@example.org