An Idaho pastor and Presbyterian Mission Agency Board member urged new small church pastoral residents to remember the role of mystery as they bear witness to God’s kingdom.

During a Small Church Residency Program commissioning service in Louisville yesterday, the Rev. Marci Glass, pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise, Idaho, drew from the parable of the sower in Mark’s Gospel to stress that God’s work surpasses human understanding.

“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and eventually some of it grows, and the sower does not know how,” she said. “The kingdom of God is a mystery.”

That mystery continues in the life of the church today, Glass noted.  “We don’t know why one person hears an invitation to church, takes you up on it and the next person doesn’t. We don’t know why some people hear the Word and are convicted by it and transformed to begin a journey of faith, and we don’t know why others, who hear the same Word, walk away unchanged.”

Pastoral resident Cyndi Wunder at the baptismal font during the confession and pardon, at the Small Church Residency commissioning worship service.

Pastoral resident Cyndi Wunder at the baptismal font during the confession and pardon, at the Small Church Residency commissioning worship service. —Paul Seebeck

While the parable teaches that the seeds that fell on good soil yielded a bountiful harvest, Glass emphasized that seeds should be sown in all types of soils. “Our task is to throw the seed of the mystery of the kingdom of God around liberally, extravagantly even. Our task is not to hoard it and parcel it out in good doses to the people or places we think look like they have potential to be good soil.”

Rather than look for good soil and anticipating praise for achieving success, she said “God wants us to sow a Powerball-sized number of seeds, go on with our lives, and see what happens.”

After the sermon, seven residents who will serve for two years through the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Small Church Residency Program were commissioned. Launched in 2009 and originally called “For Such a Time as This,” the program pairs recent seminary graduates with underserved congregations in rural, small town and urban settings.  The goal is to renew and grow small churches and help them become healthy, missional congregations. While serving these congregations, residents are guided by pastor-mentors.

The residents, mentors and representatives of presbyteries where the residents will serve are in Louisville this week for orientation.  They include:

  • Charlotte Presbytery: Elizabeth Reif, resident; Matt Baker, mentor; and Betty Meadows, presbytery representative.
  • Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery: Jeffrey Snell, resident; William Smutz, mentor; and Anita Hendrix, presbytery representative
  • Heartland Presbytery: Amir Tawadrous, resident, and Charlie Spencer, presbytery representative.
  • Peaks Presbytery: Matt Bowman, Bob McLavey, Christy Mitchell, and Kristen Reinhold, residents; Dale Brown, Nancy Dawson, Kim Jeffries, and Shirley Larson mentors; and Steve Earl, presbytery representative.