Two of the most distinguished scholars in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be sharing their wisdom on pastoral vocation as part of the Company of New Pastors’ (CNP) Pastoral Conversations series.
The Rev. Dr. Darrell L. Guder, Princeton Theological Seminary’s Henry Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology Emeritus, will speak at the Wayne (Pa.) Presbyterian Church Thursday, Sept. 10, at 7:00 p.m. The Rev. Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, president and professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., will speak at the seminary at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17. Both events will be preceded by a reception at 6:00 p.m.
Company of New Pastors is a transition-into-ministry program which focuses on pastoral formation through spiritual disciplines and mentored peer groups. The program, which expanded its offerings last fall with its new Pastoral Conversations series—designed to reach a broader audience on a variety of topics—has been part of the office of Theology and Worship since its inception. CNP has over 800 current and former participants and mentors.
“We are honored to have two of the most exciting people in the Presbyterian Church speak on pastoral vocation,” said the Rev. Dr. Charles Wiley III, coordinator of the office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “Darrell Guder and Leanne Van Dyk are both committed believers, great scholars, and genuinely kind and generous people. Pastors and those who care about pastors will profit from these conversations.”
A teaching elder in the PC(USA), Guder was at the forefront of the missional church movement in the 1990s. His writing and teaching have focused on the theology of the missional church, especially the theological implications of the paradigm shift to post-Christendom as the context for Christian mission in the West.
“Dr. Guder’s support of Company of New Pastors dates back to the beginnings of the program,” said the Rev. Karen Russell, CNP coordinator. “His support of students as they make the transition from seminary to pastoral leadership has been a great gift to CNP as well as to the participants.”
In a statement he wrote last year affirming the program, Guder said, “I look back upon over fourteen years of involvement with future pastors in these mentoring groups as one the richest and most rewarding activities of my teaching ministry. We have struggled, year by year, with the challenges of vocation to ordered ministry, the call process itself, the biblical and theological issues that any pastor on the front line must engage, and the integration of theological learning and personal spiritual formation. We have been gratified to see, year by year, that the seed planted in these groups has grown and flourished. The Company of New Pastors today really functions as an appeal to our seminaries to link intentionally the theology and practice of ministry with every aspect of seminary education.”
Russell added that Wayne Presbyterian Church is “a great place” to host the Sept. 10 event.
“Casey Thompson, who is head of staff at the Wayne Church, is an alumnus of the program,” she said, “and Aisha Brooks-Lytle, who is an associate pastor there, is one of our current pastor-mentors. I’m proud to have them associated with the program and believe both of them represent CNP well.”
For the Sept. 17 event at Columbia Seminary, Russell said Van Dyk’s willingness to speak on behalf of CNP in what is only her first semester as president, “is a thrill, frankly.”
“I’ve been a fan of her writing since my own seminary days,” Russell said, “and I am looking forward to hearing her thoughts on vocation as she begins a new chapter in her own call.”
Van Dyk, a teaching elder in the PC(USA), became Columbia Theological Seminary’s tenth president July 1. Immediately prior to her current position, she served as dean and vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich. She has also taught at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. One of her efforts remembered by many in the PC(USA) was as a member of the Catechism Committee, which completed its work in 1998. She also participated in the Re-Forming Ministry project with the office of Theology and Worship.
“We hope to build on the support of last year’s Conversations, which exceeded our expectations,” said Russell. “As CNP looks to expand access to the program to more new pastors, these conversations give us a great opportunity to introduce the program to a new audience.”
The events precede the fall orientation of CNP’s new seminary groups and its new covenant groups in national gatherings that occur in October.
“Conversations about the pastoral vocation seem entirely appropriate for CNP as we form new groups, commission new mentors, and move into a new program year,” Russell said. “Company of New Pastors wants new pastoral leaders not just to survive the transition from seminary to ministry, but to thrive during that transition.”
For more information on CNP, contact Karen Russell by email or telephone at (502) 569-5401.