In the last six weeks, “Along The Road” has released six new podcast episodes for leaders at congregations and mid councils. With an array of guests from congregations and national agencies, the discussions focus on justice and inclusion, congregation meetings and well-being, and transforming and connectional ministries. As more miles in ministry are traveled, the ATR episodes point listeners to resources for leaders at councils large and small.

Along the Road, which recently shared its 50th episode, is a production of Mid Council Ministries in the Office of the General Assembly that has two main target audiences: “Encounter” episodes for leaders at mid councils and congregations and “Nourish” episodes for congregational leaders, in particular ruling elders and deacons.

Click on a title in the image to hear any of the releases summarized below.

Justice and Inclusion

InNourish: Justice Calling,” host and Ruling Elder Martha Miller welcomes another PC(USA) podcaster, the Rev. Lee Catoe, co-host of “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast,” which focuses on issues of faith, social justice and church life. They discuss how Christians “are called to seek justice for all of God’s children, and how Presbyterian can unpack what justice means, be active in ministries of justice in their contexts, and access resources for the journey.”

A Matter of Faith recently featured a discussion with Miller’s Mid Council Ministries colleague, Flor Vélez-Díaz, Manager for Judicial Process and Social Witness.

In “Encounter: Unleashing the Power of Overtures,” the Rev. Deborah Huggins, Associate Pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, New Jersey (Northeast New Jersey Presbytery) and Ruling Elder Kate Trigger Duffert, Director of General Assembly Planning, talk with Encounter co-host and Ruling Elder valerie izumi about how “overtures, collaboration, and a commitment to inclusive language for people with disabilities began the process to proclaim anew Christ's wide embrace of all people” — including affirming the church’s commitment to inclusion by the addition of the words ‘all people,’ ‘abilities’ and ‘genders’ in the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity (F-1.0302c and F-1.0404).”

For grounding in the overture process, the ATR team encourages listeners to check out the Nourish episode from January titled “From Idea to Overture.”

Congregation meetings and well-being

In “Nourish: Let Us Begin with Prayer,” the Rev. Marissa Galván-Valle shares her insights on meeting preparation at congregations and how she uses “Regarding Ruling Elders: A Monthly Resource for Serving Faithfully” when leading session meetings. In addition to her vocational work with the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and at Beechwood Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Galván-Valle is also a regular contributor to the Regarding Ruling Elders series.

“For me it’s important to use those articles to open the eyes of ruling elders to the possibilities of ministry,” Galván-Valle says, before adding that she commonly pairs questions from Regarding Ruling Elders articles with scripture and prayer for gatherings.

In “Encounter: The Care and Nurture of the Congregation Church Safety and Emotional Well-Being,” izumi and Encounter co-host the Rev. Manuel Silva-Esterrich speak with the Revs. Kathy Riley and Jim Kirk of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance about the importance of a comprehensive approach and attentiveness to both physical safety and emotional well-being as sessions and presbyteries live out their call to nurture the covenant community of disciples.

Silva-Esterrich and izumi refer listeners to the November 2023 Encounter episode on Trauma-Informed Decision-Making, as well as the January 2024 Encounter episode on Church Safety and Security. They also share resources provided by the guests in the episode description, including “Recovering from Un-Natural Disasters: A Guide for Pastors and Congregations after Violence and Trauma,” by Laurie Kraus, David Hoylan and Bruce Wismer (Westminster John Knox Press) and web resources such as the Emotional and Spiritual Care/Resilience programs offered by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

valerie izumi (left) and Martha Miller at January’s APCE conference, St. Louis. Photo courtesy of Martha Miller.

valerie izumi (left) and Martha Miller at January’s APCE conference, St. Louis. Photo courtesy of Martha Miller.

Transforming and connectional ministries

In “Encounter: The Legacy of Reformed Christian Witness,” the Rev. Brian Heron shares with izumi and Silva-Esterrich his experiences “creating conversations and actions with pastoral ministries that envision the legacy of the communities and congregations that are working on transforming their ministerial purpose.” Heron, a former executive presbyter now in a transitional position with a congregation in the Northwest, shares “tips and guidelines on how a grief-specialized ministry can give a new life to those involved.”

“Some of my best work [has been] with congregations at what we call ‘forks in the road,’" Heron says about consulting with and leading congregations who are transitioning into a new mode of ministry and community support. He shares ways interim and transitional pastors bring special insights and skills to these moments.

In “Nourish: Spiritual Practice of Caring through Cards,” Miller talks with Ruling Elder Priscilla Andre-Colton, a certified Christian educator in Northern Virginia, about praying for others and demonstrating care through her ministry of making and sending cards. 

After beginning with “stamping,” Andre-Colton moved to making individualized birthday cards. During the pandemic she crafted cards for members of her church community, “which was when it started to morph into a spiritual practice.” In 2024 she makes at least one card a day and sends at least 30 cards each month. “No two cards are alike, because when I’m making that card I’m thinking about that person. A card made just for them,” that also comes with a prayer.

Listen to all Along the Road episodes at