The Reverend Jerry Van Marter, former coordinator for the Presbyterian News Service, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been invited by the Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, to serve as part-time, interim communications director in the PC(USA)’s Office of the General Assembly (OGA).
Van Marter succeeds the Reverend Toya Richards, who has accepted a new position as senior communications associate for The Night Ministry, a faith-based, social service agency in Chicago.
“As a lifelong Presbyterian, I’ve learned that when the Stated Clerk calls, you answer,” says Van Marter, who retired as news services coordinator in December 2014. “One of the great ironies in accepting this position is that I have the privilege of succeeding Toya Richards, who I hired twelve years ago to write for the Presbyterian News Service (PNS). She has done marvelous work.”
In 2005, Van Marter hired Richards, who was then writing for Business First, as a reporter for PNS. In 2013, after graduating from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Richards became communications director for OGA.
She says her call to serve in OGA “allowed me to put into practice a considerable portion of the knowledge and skills I gained in seminary.” She expects that her next call, to serve The Night Ministry, “will allow me to apply that knowledge in practical, grassroots ministry that directly affects people’s lives.”
The Night Ministry was founded in 1976 by eighteen Chicago congregations, several of which were Presbyterian. It has provided housing, health care, and human connections to people struggling with poverty and homelessness for more than forty years.
Van Marter was ordained to the ministry in 1971 after graduating from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He served four congregations in the Presbytery of San Francisco before accepting a call to join PNS as a reporter when the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) moved to Louisville in 1988. He became coordinator for Presbyterian News Services in 1994.
In retirement, Van Marter served as alumni relations advisor for San Francisco Theological Seminary from April 2015 until March 2017 and is currently stated clerk for the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky, a position he was elected to in January 2016. He also serves on the board of directors of the Presbyterian Writers Guild.
He and his wife, Eva Stimson, live in Louisville, where they are both active in Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church. They have adult children, Luke and Rachel, who live in Chicago. In addition to family and church, Van Marter’s great loves are baseball (San Francisco Giants), good cigars and good bourbon, reading, gardening, and the Grateful Dead.
Van Marter says what he is most looking forward to in his new position is “helping my colleagues in OGA tell their stories about how they support and resource the work of congregations and mid councils in the PC(USA).
“I believe that any job at this level is about the relationships between people—people who are all seeking to serve Jesus Christ the best they can in whatever position they occupy in the denomination,” Van Marter says.
“Retirement is great, but this opportunity is better,” he adds. “I am grateful to J. Herbert Nelson, II, for this opportunity to serve the church I love.”