Mid Councils Newsletter, May 18, 2015
musings from the road
I heard a great idea when I was with the Presbytery Leader Formation group near New Orleans in early May. If you are not familiar with this group, then you might want to know that this is a three-year training program for those who are new to executive leadership in presbyteries or its equivalent. Students attend a week of learning, worship, and making new connections with people for three years as they begin this work. This year the group was at a beautiful retreat center north of New Orleans. Perhaps you have seen some of the pictures on Facebook.
There is a faculty, of course. It has been my experience that the students are also full of knowledge that they share with one another and the members of the faculty. Among those learnings for me this year was an idea from Glacier Presbytery.
Glacier is a presbytery with wide open spaces, many small churches, and not many people around who are willing to serve those small churches for what the church can afford to pay. They came up with a great solution for a church with about ten members, which is very close to the Canadian border. These ranchers had tried various preachers and reported to the presbytery that they needed educated leadership in the pulpit and really craved having the same person in the pulpit on a regular basis.
So the presbytery got to work putting together a creative package, designed to appeal to retired pastors or those looking for solitude. They offered two options. One was $100 per week and a very quiet manse in which to write or pray. The other was the same $100 per week, a “basket” each month of some meat or eggs or fresh bread; free fly-fishing lessons; and free archery lessons. And, of course, the beautiful scenery of Montana to enjoy on the five days a week that were non-work days. A retired pastor “bit” at the second option. He will serve the church for a year and have stories to tell for the rest of his life!
What ideas has this sparked for you? What could you offer someone that would be unique about coming to serve a small church in your presbytery? Maybe you could offer a small stipend, quilting lessons, bread baking lessons, and some tickets to the theater in Chicago. Maybe you could offer that stipend, some work with Habitat for Humanity, a guided hike in the mountains once a month, and a season pass to Dollywood. Or maybe you could come up with the stipend, fresh seafood once a week, a deep sea fishing expedition once during the year, and a membership to two or three museums in the city near the church. The possibilities are endless.
And think what this can do for the retiree. It provides a kind of step down from the rigors of pastoral ministry. They still get to preach and moderate a session but many of the other strains of their more active ministry would be absent or at least on a smaller scale. It also gives them a way to graciously separate themselves from their former parish while beginning to form new bonds with a new, smaller group of people.
This is the kind of creative solution that can come to mind when we forget about what we have always done, when we think about the real purpose of the congregation (to tell the good news in a way that is accessible to the community), and when we are open to the call of God to move into the future with hope and courage.
Presbytery of Chicago is seeking a Transitional Executive Presbyter.
Presbytery of Lake Huron is seeking an Executive Presbyter.
Here is an announcement about the Western Regional Staff Conference to which all synod and presbytery staff are invited.
Experience that deep sense of community one would expect at a national gathering of Presbyterians—a great big family reunion! Join us for a wide variety of workshops, all under one Big Tent, a conference that will inspire and equip Presbyterians to live missionally. Click here for more information.
Preachers for Worship Services Include:
Laurene Chan, Director of Youth Ministries, Cameron House
San Francisco Theological Seminary
Paul Roberts, President
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Jana Childers, Professor of homiletics and Speech Communication
San Francisco Theological Seminary