Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


May, 2011 - Vol 5, Issue 2
PPCN Mission

Nurturing the health of the Body of Christ through caring for its


 helping others logo


In This Issue
Remembering the Servants
Specialized Ministry
PPCN  Board

Dan Corll, President

Pittsburgh Presbytery


Joe Sandifer, Vice President

Presbytery of Greater Atlanta


Carol Allen, Secretary

Chicago Presbytery


Alan Baroody, Treasurer

Savannah Presbytery


Steve McCutchan, Newsletter Editor

Salem Presbytery


Christine Sage

Pacific Presbytery


Lou Snead

Mission Presbytery


Ken Waddell

Cherokee Presbytery


Denominational Advisors:

Marcia Meyers


Office of Vocation, PC(USA)


Helen Locklear

Board of Pensions, PC(USA) 

Click here for information on how to join PPCN.  


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The Presbytery Pastoral Care Network is holding our annual gathering as a pre-conference with our denomination's Big Tent Event planned for the end of June.    By consolidating our annual PPCN conferences shepherd's crook logowith the Big Tent Event, we provide Presbytery leaders the opportunity to participate in a variety of ministry and mission learning opportunities.

The PPCN Conference for 2011 begins on Wednesday, June 29 at 3:00 pm and concludes at 4:00 pm on the next day, June 30, prior to the opening of the Big Tent Event.  

The focus of this year's PPCN conference is Caring for Clergy while the Church is Changing. Dramatic changes are occurring across the governing body structures of the PCUSA. We plan to address how presbyteries might find adaptive ways to provide pastoral care and to enhance pastoral excellence for church professionals who are serving churches in these challenging times. 


To explore together some adaptive changes for the future, our PPCN conference will include three presentations that bring a different perspective to our topic - a presbytery executive, a PCUSA seminary president, and a presentation from the research on pastoral excellence being generated by the Lilly Endowment. We are pleased to have Dr. Tom Evans, the Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta to address the topic, "Who is Going to Provide Pastoral Care for Ministers as our Presbytery Resources Diminish?"   We are also delighted to have Dr. John Wimmer, the Program Director for the Lilly Endowment's research program on Pastoral Excellence, making a presentation on "What We Are Learning about Pastoral Excellence" in today's religious culture.  Finally, we are pleased to have Dr. Stephen Hayner, the President of Columbia Theological Seminary, addressing the topic "Identifying and Encouraging Healthy Pastors." Our conference also will include several workshop electives for our participants to choose from: 

  • Helping Congregations Care for their Pastors
  • Planning for Clergy Care in Your Presbytery
  • Accessing the Resources of the Board of Pensions

The PPCN Conference will be held at the Marriott Place Hotel Complex in downtown Indianapolis where the Big Tent Event will also be held.  Registrations for the PPCN Conference and hotel accommodations can be made via the Big Tent website- or by using the Registration Form that is on the PPCN website- More information about the costs for attending this conference or information about the  PPCN conference schedule can also be found on the PPCN website.  (editor's note:  whether you are attending the PPCN conference and/or the Big Tent Event, you must register using the BTE registration form.  The PPCN conference is listed under 'pre-conferences'.) 


Let us think together about the adaptive changes needed within our presbyteries in order to provide care and support for clergy and to strengthen pastoral excellence in a changing church culture.


Lou Snead

Remembering the Servants of the Larger Church 


If you talk to many people within our denomination, one overpowering reality is that economics are necessitating the cutting of staff. As we emerged out of WWII and entered a period marked both by increasing prosperity as a nation, and through the 60s a growth in size of churches and denominations, we began to professionalize a variety of aspects of our church's ministry. This ranged from multi-staffs in large churches to increase in presbytery, synod, and GA staff. As we recognized the scope of ministry before us, we sought out professionals that could enable the church to carry out that ministry. Regardless of the choice of reasons for the decline in church membership, that, together with our recent economic collapse has forced the church to pare back considerably.

Like corporations, the first action is to trim staff but not expectations for ministry. The result is an increasingly stressed and exhausted staff in the upper judicatories of our church. It is important to examine realistically our expectations of these servants of the Lord while at the same time looking for ways to care for them in their ministry

These servants of the Lord and of our larger church need to be lifted up in prayer. As a first step, and to be repeated at regular intervals, the council or body to with whom they regularly meet should step aside from their business agenda and engage in a version of what can be called appreciative inquiry. You can do this in one of two ways. You can simply place the person in your midst and members of the board begin to speak spontaneously of attitudes, activities, demeanor, accomplishments that they appreciate in that person. These should be done in short declarative sentences. Long stories and meandering reflections should be avoided. Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving for his or her ministry.

Another way to do this would be more intentionally liturgical. Where available, by doing this in a chapel or sanctuary you are drawing upon the physical setting that speaks of our faith community. Have the person placed in your midst (physical placement of the person in the center of the circle can be powerful), enter a time of verbal prayer in which members of the council offer prayers of thanks for the positive aspects of this person's ministry.

As a person offers a specific prayer of thanks, the others who have gathered respond with a verse from Psalm 67. (To increase our awareness of how God is working, I suggest that you substitute the word "church" where "nation" is mentioned. For Israel, the nation was the people of God where God's presence found expression in the same way that we affirm that it can happen in our church. For ease of use, you should have copies of the psalm available with the alteration already included.)

Following the praying of that verse, await another person's expression of thanks and then respond with the next verse from Psalm 67. Continue this form of prayer through the psalm and if more prayers are offered, simply begin at the beginning of the psalm and continue praying.

Specialized Ministry


It is good reformed theology to say that the call of God is extended to all members of a congregation. That God can call a person to be a lawyer or a laborer in equally valid form as God's call to be a clergy. There is a special category of people who fit somewhere in between those called to be pastors and those called in what we often refer to as the secular dimensions of our society. These are those who have received theological training and in most cases have been ordained within their particular denomination, but choose to exercise their gifts in some form of ministry other than that of the congregation.

Some exercise their ministry in the familiar structures of chaplaincy or a counseling ministry. Others work in social service agencies that minister to the poor or needy in our society. Still others find their calling in law, medicine, business, etc. Yet each understand themselves as practicing their calling. Unfortunately, they are often neglected by their denominational structures and do not receive the corporate nurture from colleagues who are also ordained.

A first step might be identifying the variety of forms of ministry beyond the congregation that take place in your presbytery. Once you have identified the theologically trained, or spiritually called, members who engage in ministry, they can be invited to attend the gathering. At the appropriate time, someone could describe examples of the variety of ministry that is taking place. Perhaps have those so engaged stand for a brief recognition and then engage in the following litany of affirmation.

A Litany Celebrating the call to Specialized Ministry
Psalm 111 (Adapted)

(Leader) "Praise the Lord! (We) will give thanks to the Lord with (our) whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

(People) We recognize John, Ellen, Byron, and Beth who have felt the call to develop their gift of teaching that extends beyond their local congregation and blesses the community around them.

(Leader) "Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them."

(People) We celebrate the creative ministries of Joan, Philip, Floyd, Bob, and Ellen who have advocated for justice in ways that have prodded our conscience and moved us to a deeper understanding of the justice of God.

(Leader) "Full of honor and majesty is God's work, and God's righteousness endures forever."

(People) We lift up Susan's work in counseling and support groups and Beth's work with prison ministries. We honor Arthur's work with Hospice and Florence and Henry's ministry on behalf of returned veterans.

(Leader) "God has gained renown by God's wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful."

(People) Today we praise the call that has extended the ministries of Brenda, Russ, Carlton, and Rick on behalf of feeding ministries in their communities.

(Leader) "(God) provides food for those who fear him; God is ever mindful of God's covenant."

(People) We commend the ministries of Evan, Carol, and Earnest who have worked to strengthen the bonds of their communities and bring people together across diverse boundaries.

(Leader) "God has shown his people the power of God's works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of God's hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness."

(People) We recognize with appreciation the work of Phyllis, Brendan, Mike, and Errol for their efforts to bring God's presence in the professions within our communities.

(Leader) Each of those named and so many who are yet to be named have responded to the call of God in special ways that have strengthened the ministry of this presbytery. We give thanks to God for the working of your Spirit in their lives and in ours.

(People) "(God) sent redemption to God's people; God has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is God's name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever."

This is written for a Presbytery meeting but it could easily be adapted to other denominational gatherings or local congregations who wanted to celebrate the diverse ministries of their many members. Obviously, the fictional ministries of the people mentioned in the litany along with their particular ministries needs to be replaced with the real efforts that have been identified.

The main thesis is that as a corporate church, we need to honor and affirm these servants of God as well. As we do so, we strengthen the whole body

Laughter from the Well CD

Laughter from the Well CDPPCN offers this new CD in support of the countless pastors who have the courage to respond to God's call and the strength to endure the journey.

Order your copy from

Combining the comedy of Stephen McCutchanand the music of David Bailey, and Bryan McFarland, this CD offers 70 minutes of humorous and musical reflections on the challenges of ministry.


There is "a time to weep and a time to laugh."  May this help you with the laughter. 

Their previous CD, A Deep Well for the Pastor, may be ordered from the Presbyterian Distribution Center at 1-800-524-2612 and asking for OGA-08-099.  For bulk discounts and other information contact

For more information on the care of clergy, go to the editor's blog.
Join the conversation on ways to care for clergy four to five days a week.

PPCN provides professional development, support, and resources for those caring for ministers throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA).