ppcn logo

Fall 2012
Presbytery Pastoral Care Network (PPCN) is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing professional development, support, and resources for those caring for ministers throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA).


As PPCN Board President there are a few quick notes to pass on to you. As Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas Seasons quickly fall into succession PPCN urges you to remember to care for yourself and your family in the midst of your ministry responsibilities. In celebrating these holidays be sure to take time, catch your breath and enjoy the season!


The Annual PPCN Conference took place Oct. 15-18 with the featured plenary on Compassion Fatigue and Resilience for Ministry led by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance leaders: Rev. Jim Kirk and Rev. Laurie Kraus. We discovered great resources for ministry management and recommend them to you. PDA can be available to any presbytery making a request.


The Big Tent Event of the Presbyterian Church USA will be held in Louisville, KY from August 1-3. The PPCN Board is planning a pre-conference workshop before The Big Tent. Watch for information in the near future. This will be an excellent opportunity for vital and helpful continuing education.


New officers were elected to the PPCN Board and several long time members of the board rotated off. They are now on the sidelines cheering us on but ever ready to render their expertise to the greater church. We express great appreciation to Carol Allen, Alan Baroody, Joe Sandifer, and Lou Snead for their leadership, vision and support to the mission of PPCN. Thank you! New board members are: Barb Cathey, Susan Holderness, Stan Jewell, and Jim Splitt.   New officers for 2013 are Dan Corll, President; Stan Jewell, Vice President; Gary Weaver, Treasurer; and Christine Sage, Secretary. We stand ready to serve and resource the mission and outreach of PPCN. We also welcome SanDawna Ashley from the Vocation Office and continue in relationship with Helen Locklear from the Board of Pensions as our Institutional Representatives.


Annual Membership Dues to PPCN are now due for 2013. Membership terms run from January through December. Individual dues are $45.00 and Institutional Membership dues are $200.00. As we near the end of the year, tax deductible contributions are welcomed, as we are a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization. Contributions and dues may be sent to Gary Weaver, Treasurer, 396 W. Archer Dr., Pueblo West, CO 81007. Please make checks payable to Presbytery Pastoral Care Network.


In this Thanksgiving-Gift Giving Season, I am most grateful for the dedicated work of our Board Members and the interest, support and participation of all involved with PPCN. God's blessing to you and yours in this special season.


Dan Corll 

13th Annual Fall Gathering - "Staying Afloat in Stormy Seas"
Epworth by the Sea Conference Center, St. Simon's Island, GA
Dan & Jim
Jim Kirk, PDA & Dan Corll, PPCN President

St Simons Island
St. Simon's Island - Beautiful!
board on porch
Is this an Executive Session??

ppcn board meeting
PPCN Board Meeting

work session
Work sessions
Networking - Jan Edmiston, Steve McCutchan, SanDawna Ashley
PDA presentation
PDA presentation
God's Call for Family Fun

We often speak of God's call as a reference to an individual. Would there be value in discussing what God's call is for a whole family? Might God want a family to have some fun together?


Let's consider how God might call a family to have a fun experience. Make it a family round discussion. Spin a bottle in the midst of the family and whoever it points to begins with a sentence like, "If God wanted this family to have a really fun experience, it would happen at what time of the year."   


The next person, identified through spinning the bottle, would continue, "At that time of year previously identified, the family would pack these clothes. "  Then the next person would say, "When at that time of year we packed these clothes, we would then travel in what form of transportation."  The next person would say, "When we traveled in that form of transportation, we would arrive at..." Each time the next person adds an element to the experience but does not conclude the whole description of the experience, leaving it open to be developed by the next person.   


This could be followed by another experience, " If this family was to have the experience that Abram had to leave all that is familiar behind and go on a life changing journey (See Genesis 12), this might be the way that it would develop. Again use unfinished sentences for the family to participate in developing their understanding of God's call for their family.Allow this to be a free flowing, fun experience but be aware that you are also surfacing significant family values in the process.


Have fun. You may be surprised at what you will discover. God's call can be revealed in unique ways. 

A Family Liturgy 

This is a family liturgical event that can be adapted for various configurations of families. If children are part of the family, then an element of fun can be added by having a favorite dessert as part of the event. If the family unit consists of just two adults, perhaps it could include either a special tea, freshly brewed coffee, or a glass of wine if that is acceptable in the family. The point is that the food and drink can contribute to this being a relaxing event.


As a symbol of God's presence, light a candle and place it in the middle of those present. Perhaps a track from a CD might be played as people begin to relax and focus on the candle. As people are ready, each person offers a verbal prayer of thanks for a quality in the family for which they are thankful. After all have had an opportunity to do that, then people can offer a specific word of thanks for either an event or an action of some specific member of the family. If there are only two people present, they might want to offer these thanksgivings more than once.


The event concludes with everyone praying the 23rd Psalm together. Try different translations of the psalm. It might have special impact if the words "our family" were substituted for the pronoun in the psalm. "The Lord is our family's shepherd," etc.   


If this were done once a month, one would be aware of the temperature of the family and where special attention needs to be paid.  

Congregational Care of Clergy  

While most congregations and sessions do care about the pastor's family, most do not set aside time to reflect on the impact of the demands of the ministry in their congregation on the pastor's family. It would be healthy for a session to take some time to reflect on some of the following questions.


1 Corinthians 12: 26 states that "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it." We begin by considering a check list for assisting a clergy family to maintain healthy family relationships, but in the back of our minds we should keep in mind the health of all families within the congregation. There is no perfect formula for preventing the destructive culture that plagues families, but there are ways to improve our chances for having healthy families. Some, though not all, of the areas that we might look at are:


1. Does the pastor feel the support of the church leadership for his or her attention to the health of the family?


2. Does the congregation understand the pressures on the pastor's family created by the fish-bowl nature of the ministry?


3. Has there been a conversation on appropriate boundaries for protecting family time while maintaining pastoral availability in times of need?


4. When the pastor experiences negative feedback, does someone recognize its effect on family members and offer them support?


5. Because good pastors work long hours which occasionally interfere with family plans, does the leadership express thanks to family members for their sacrifice and support?


6. Is there a fund to support the pastor in receiving family counseling when there is a need?


7. Has there been consideration for occasionally inviting the family to a non-church fun event as a sign of appreciation for their extra efforts?


8. Is the pastor encouraged to occasionally have a conversation with family members about how they are experiencing the effect of being a pastor's family?  (Note, the ToolBox has some suggested games for facilitating such a conversation.)


9. Does the pastor feel full support for taking their day off and their full vacation?


10. Is there recognition that even single pastors have family members that need attention?


11. Is there recognition of the importance for taking time to maintain relationships with extended family members?


12. Has the church leadership along with the pastor had a conversation about the faith resources for maintaining healthy families?


This is a beginning. Try to add some other check points for maintaining healthy families. Then begin to strategize about how to implement a plan to support healthy family relationships both for the pastor and other families who are feeling the stress of our culture on their relationships.  

Presbytery PK Retreat 
Being part of a minister's family is different from being in other families. Not only are you in a 24-hour fish bowl, but people act differently towards you when they know your father or mother is a pastor. A presbytery can make a healthy contribution towards family health by holding a retreat for the teenagers of pastors. It can be a one-day retreat or a weekend retreat but it is designed to allow these teenagers to explore both their positive and negative feelings among peers in a similar situation.

This is a possible design for such an event. First, you begin with food as people arrive. Then you welcome them and briefly explain that they will spend time exploring the various advantages and disadvantages of being a PK. You might then ask people to speak out a single word or short phrase that describes what it is like being a PK.


Then move to a values clarification exercise. Have a long strip down the middle of the room with numbers 1-5 reaching out each way from the center of the strip. Tell the group to place themselves along the strip in the following manner. If they can share 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 advantages to being part of a pastor's family, place themselves on a number to the right of center, and if they can share 1-5 disadvantages, put themselves on the number to the left of center. (Of course they could do some of both but at this time, they can choose one or the other.) Once placed, have them share alternating between advantages and disadvantages.


Next, have them separate themselves into one of four corners of the room. One corner for people whose father has always been a full time pastor. Second corner, their mother is the pastor. In the third corner, their parent is a second-career pastor. In the fourth corner, their parent is a part time pastor. (You might find other categories.) Let each group talk among themselves about how their situation is different from the other groups. Ask them to come up with 3 - 5 differences that will then be shared.


Remix the groups into small groups of 4-6 people each. Give them skits to develop illustrating various realities of being in a pastor's family. You can make up several different skits topics such as how a family handles the pastor having to interrupt a vacation, how they respond to hearing about criticism of pastor's work, how some other teens respond to hearing that they are part of a pastor's family, etc. After each skit is acted out, there is time for discussion.


After a number of active exercises, you can then move to a more reflective aspect of the retreat. There is often value in having people write for ten minutes without interruption on a specific topic. Some suggested topics for reflection are:

  • For ten minutes write on the topic, how has been being a member of a pastor's family affected my friendships?
  • For ten minutes, write about what you would like to tell God about how it feels to be a member of a pastor's family.
  • For ten minutes, write about what you admire about the pastor and his or her work in the church.
  • For ten minutes, write about how growing up in a pastor's family has affected what you want to do in your life.
  • For ten minutes, write on this subject. If you could send an anonymous message to the congregation about how they treat the pastor, what would you want to say?

Pick out two or three of these, and after each ten-minute writing session, have the people share what they have written. If there is a large group, you might have to do that in small groups with a facilitator.


You might also do an anonymous advice session. Have people write out a question about how to handle a certain situation, and then let the whole group develop a group answer.

The mixture of active exercises and more reflective activities can provide a balance for the retreat. Recognize that this may be one of the first times that some of these youth have had a chance to share their feelings about being part of a minister's family. You need to have some leaders present who are prepared to assist in a supportive way those who might become emotional in sharing. Be careful not to have any of the leaders become defensive about what is being said. It needs to be clear from the beginning that nothing that individuals say at the meeting will be shared with others.  

PPCN Board
Dan Corll, President
   Pittsburgh Presbytery

Stanley Jewell, Vice President

   Presbytery of Denver

Christine Sage, Secretary

   Pacific Presbytery

Steve McCutchan, Newsletter Editor
   Salem Presbytery

Barbara Cathey

   Chicago Presbytery

Melanie Hancock

   Presbytery of Northern Kansas

Susan Holderness

   Western Reserve Presbytery
Jim Splitt
   Maumee Valley Presbytery

Gary Weaver

   Presbytery of Pueblo

Denominational Advisors:
SanDawna Ashley
   Office of Vocation, PC(USA)

Helen Locklear
   Board of Pensions, PC(USA)

Teaming With Your Clergy, a resource webinar co-sponsored by the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network and the Presbyterian Outlook, offering a plan to strengthen the healthy nurture of the teamwork between session and pastor.

Available by contacting jblazek@pres-outlook.org or 800/446-6008 Ext. 758 

Bulk discounts available.


CD:  Deep Well for the Pastor
SpirituDeep Well CD Front Coveral meditations and music to support the pastoral vocation. 
Price $10 
(limited supply)
To order, contact

CD:  Laughter from the WellLaughter from the Well CD
Seventy minutes of humorous & musical reflections on the challenges of ministry. 
Price $15.99
Order here.
Mission:  Nurturing the health of the Body of Christ through caring for its pastors.
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.

Stay Connected
Facebook    Twitter    LinkedIn    Pinterest
Presbytery Pastoral Care Network
281 Limerick Road, Wexford, PA  15090