Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
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Yesterday I was in Detroit for a meeting of the Association of Mid-Council Leaders (where they changed their name from the much more simian Association of Executive Presbyters, or AEPs). I went in order to talk with them about the small church residency program For Such a Time as This, and how presbyteries and the Presbyterian Mission Agency (where I serve) can work together to help small churches to thrive.
For Such a Time as This, which plays an important role in the Mission Agency’s strategic investment in transformational leadership, helps connect new seminary graduates and small churches who often struggle to find pastoral leadership. The graduates are connected with a mentor from their presbytery as well as a local cohort of peers who are in the same stage of ministry. They come together three times over the two-year commitment of the program for training and networking. Churches are grateful for the passion and expertise of their new pastors, and presbyteries receive an infusion of energy and hope as other churches see the possibilities brought about in the For Such a Time as This congregations.
It was apparent that presbytery leadership throughout the country is committed to helping small churches to thrive--to bring about a new sunrise of hope, if you will. One Executive Presbyter told me that his presbytery is moving toward a decision to make supporting these churches their number one priority. I told him, “Let us know how For Such a Time as This can help.” He said, “Don’t worry—we will.”
Seminary graduates and resident churches can now find each other through the Church Leadership Connection. Presbyteries and the Presbyterian Mission Agency combine to invest funds in the program. Please pray with me that the Spirit will blow more vigorous life into these congregations as a testimony to our God who makes all things new.