Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


May/June 2012 - Vol 6, Issue 2


ppcn logo  

Articles in this Issue
Loneliness in Ministry
Weekly Pastoral Team Reports
Judicatory Staff Nurture
Session Care of Pastor
More Topics of Interest

PPCN Mission

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


 helping others logo



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


Melanie Hancock

Presbytery of Northern Kansas 


Steve McCutchan, Newsletter Editor

Salem Presbytery


Christine Sage

Pacific Presbytery


Lou Snead

Mission Presbytery


Gary Weaver 

Presbytery of Pueblo



Denominational Advisors:

Marcia Meyers


Office of Vocation, PC(USA)


Helen Locklear

Board of Pensions, PC(USA)


Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations

Flash drives containing the Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations powerpoint program and expanded script and updated Toolbox are available for $40.   Contact 
Steve McCutchan.


Deep Well CD Front Cover 

A Deep Well for the Pastor:  Spiritual meditations & music to support the  pastoral vocation.  Price: $10 

To Order: Call Presbyterian  Distribution Center

Ph. 1-800-524-2612

Ask for OGA-08-099


Laughter from the Well CD 

CD Offering 70 minutes of humorous and musical reflections on the challenges of ministry.  Price $15.99

 Order here









PPCN 13th National Gathering
October 15-18, 2012
St. Simons Island, GA
"Staying Afloat on Stormy Seas:  Caring for Clergy in Trying Times"
Click here for more information
Presbytery Pastoral Care Network 


"Staying Afloat on Stormy Seas:  

Caring for Clergy in Trying Times"   


St. Simons Island, GA ~ October 15 - 18, 2012

As you engage in the practice of ministry, has there ever been a time when you were bone weary, emotionally drained, and intellectually dried up? Oh, was that yesterday, or perhaps last week, or maybe as you are reading this? Perhaps you have heard of Compassion Fatigue but are convinced there is nothing you can do about it except hope that you can make it until your next vacation time, or perhaps until retirement.   


The Presbytery Pastoral Care Network (PPCN) is concerned about the increasing evidence that many pastors are struggling with the stress and demands of ministry in this anxious society. They are aware, as well, that Committees on Ministry and presbytery staff, in addition to experiencing stress in their own areas are looking for ways to support the clergy under their care. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, in response to their challenge of caring for those who are responding to disasters around the world, have drawn upon some experts to design training in Compassion Fatigue Prevention and Resiliency.


PPCN has asked them to assist us in providing you the results of their work as it applies to pastors who are seeking to cope with the multiple challenges of ministry while remaining healthy themselves and having good healthy relationships with their family. Mark Monday, October 15, through Thursday, October 18, and join us for our 13th annual gathering. Let us join together to share our resources around the theme "Staying Afloat on Stormy Seas: Caring for Clergy in Trying Times."   Click here for more information.


A major challenge for good pastors is how to handle the loneliness inherent in the pastorate. Rate the following experiences in ministry that most generates in you a sense of loneliness. Use as scale of 1-10 with 10 being that experience that most contributes to your sense of loneliness in the ministry.


1. You have been entrusted with painful secrets of members for which you have no answers but also can't share it with anyone else?

2. You are being criticized for a budget shortfall in your church and you have no power to change things?

3. You have been working 70 hours a week trying to meet the needs of the congregation and someone criticizes you for things like not having enough humor in your sermons?

4. Your denomination has made a controversial decision and members think you should do something about it?

5. You want to preach on profound theological issues and people want a sermon with four easy steps to ease stress in life?

6. Your family is feeling your absence and your congregation wants you to be more active in attracting new members?

7. Your church responsibilities are exhausting but you are bored because all the work is repetitive and the creative challenge is nil?

8. Your integrity is challenged because the church wants you to please people and be successful while you yearn to be more faithful?

9. You feel the Gospel demands you be inclusive of all people and your church or denomination is fearful of diversity?

10. You feel you are the only one who wants to talk about what God would want for the church?


Pick your top three and write no more than three sentences about how these situations make you feel lonely. The next step is to develop strategies to counter that loneliness. Invite a trusted colleague to take the exam with you and then begin to brainstorm possible antidotes.



"Who is sick?  Who needs our special prayers?  Who has some good news to celebrate?  Whom might I visit or call or write?"


This is the way the  weekly email  Pastoral Team Report of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta begins.  Many Presbyteries have pastoral reports that share important information on a regular basis.  It's one of the most important ways Presbyteries can pastor their pastors.


The one in Atlanta contains a section called "New This Week" and one called "Continuing Prayer List."  In addition  the eight members of the Pastoral Team are listed along with their phone numbers and email address. Over the years people have learned to send in items for the report.  It was intended for the 450 clergy in the Presbytery, but as others learned of it they wanted it that now 1285 are emailed out each week.


One of the most  commented items in the report is called "I Didn't Know That!" which shares personal items of the fact that Phil Brown was on the All American Swim Team when he was in college. or that Gray Norsworthy plays in a jazz band.  These things won't 'bring in the Kingdom' but they do bring us closer together.


The Presbytery uses the newsletter service provider Constant Contact which works very well for the Pastor to Pastors who puts out the Report every Friday morning.  (For additional information you may contact Joe Sandifer, Pastor to Pastors, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta)




Whether you are the lone staff member or there are several on the presbytery staff, it is important that you learn to take care of yourselves while you are caring for the clergy of your churches. There is a piece of technology that can be very valuable in your nurture through peer support in your ministry. Most recent computers have a built in camera but even if yours doesn't, it only costs under $40 to add a camera to your current computer. That is all you need to engage in skyping or some other version of video conferencing. 


Once you have the equipment, look across the country (or in some cases internationally) and identify a person that has a similar position to yours. Explore with that person the possibility of entering into a scheduled conference call at least once a month. It needs to be a person who you trust to keep confidences and who trusts you. It also needs to be a person who has some grasp of the nature of your position. That is why it is helpful to find a person with a similar position.


Your agreement is to set aside a time and day for your monthly conversation. The conversation is private so both of you need to plan a physical location that allows for private conversation. You also need to agree to an amount of time that you both will set aside. While there will need to be some chit-chat and catching up each time, you also need to agree that there will be a designated, intentional agenda that you both will follow for the majority of your conversation.


I would suggest it begin with each of you sharing one or more things that are exciting you, at least one frustrating experience, and one challenge that while demanding you find satisfying. Over time you may find a different balance, but the point is that you use a framework that encourages you to engage in serious conversation.

Look forward to these "sacred conversations" and feel nurtured by them.




The session and perhaps the personnel committee of a congregation need to be aware of the types of services made available to them through the EAP program of the Board of Pensions. When they note a particular need among the church's staff, they can reach out and secure assistance for them.


For example, you recognize that your staff has been under a lot of pressure recently. You can hook them up with the telephonic coaching program on stress management by calling 866-640-2772. On the other hand, perhaps a member of your staff is struggling with a weight problem. Help is available through the Weight Management Program by calling the same number. If the issue is quitting smoking, call the Mayo Clinic Tobacco Quitline to enroll-- 888-642-5566. If a staff member or family member is struggling with a chronic illness, support is available through the Nurse Line at Care Allies/Smart Choices: 800-237-3015.


These are just some of the resources that you have already paid for through the Board of Pensions. Become aware and help both them and your church. 


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).