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January/February 2013
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).


Greetings from President of the Board, 

Much effort by the PPCN board is currently directed to participation in The Big Tent Event in Louisville, KY in early August and to a pre-conference workshop.  We are investigating the interest in Sabbath and Sabbaticals in Challenging Times.  We would like to hear from you about your interest in such a workshop and presentation.  Many times our Lord encouraged the apostles to step back from their ministry tasks, or to be on retreat together, or to designate specific times for prayer or meditation.  In what ways do you renew your spiritual batteries or recharge your pastoral leadership capacities?  Watch for soon to be released information about the PPCN pre-conference event.     


 Also, Annual Membership Dues to PPCN are now due for 2013. Membership terms run from January through December. Read more about the benefits of a PPCN membership and download the application. Individual dues are $45.00 and Institutional Membership dues are $200.00. Send your dues and check payable to Presbytery Pastoral Care Network to: Gary Weaver, PPCN Treasurer, 396 W. Archer Dr., Pueblo West, CO 81007.  


Dan Corll 

Big Tent Event

PPCN 2013 Conference

will be held July 31-Aug 1

in Louisville, KY prior to the  

Big Tent Conference  

The ToolBox 

tool kit The mission of the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network found on our webpage www.pastoralcarenetwork.org is "Advocating, Educating, Encouraging, and Equipping for the Care of Pastors in the Presbyterian Church (USA)."  We seek to do that through our annual conferences, occasional webinars, consultations, providing resources on CDs , this newsletter, and the ToolBox. In this issue, we want to lift up the ToolBox as a major resource for the church. It can be accessed by going to our webpage and clicking on The Toolbox: Tips on Caring for Clergy. While we encourage both individual ($45) and institutional ($200) membership, the ToolBox is available for the whole church.


Recognizing the demands of the pastorate and the resulting stress and strain on the pastor and staff, the PPCN offers this ToolBox of strategies to assist presbyteries, congregations, pastors and educators bring a healthier perspective to the work of ministry. It is structured around six dimensions of health: physical, emotional, financial, family, spiritual, and vocational. In this issue of the newsletter, we offer a sample from the ToolBox for the pastor, congregation, and presbytery as well as one suggestion for the church as it offers ministry to returned veterans. Recognizing that all ministry is specific to the place and people involved, you are invited to review the ToolBox and identify some strategies that would be applicable to your situation. You are also encouraged to access the editor's blog,www.smccutchan.com for additional suggestions.


Sabbaths and Sanctuaries for Clergy  
The nature of ministry is filled with stress and a good measure of anxiety. For our own emotional health, we need to develop strategi be still es in which we interrupt that stress by entering a sanctuary, whether physical or psychological, and refocus ourselves. Even brief Sabbaths of 10 to 20 minutes, practiced on a regular basis, can have both a calming and rejuvenating effect on us.

Try a simple experiment. If you have either a watch or an electronic calendar that has an alarm built in, set it for 10:30 and 3:30 every day for a month. When the alarm goes off, enter a brief Sabbath time in which you offer thanks to God for yo time ur life and God's call in your life. If you are with someone when the alarm goes off, simply zone out for a minute for an interior prayer, or if that is impossible, make a note to do that at the first opportunity. If you are not with someone or can excuse yourself, perhaps for a bathroom break, enter the stall and spend 5 minutes alone with God. The objective is not measured in length of time but the regularity of interrupting your day twice to enter a sanctuary that helps you stay in touch with that which is important.


There are many ways that we can care for our emotional health. It can be as simple as making sure that you interrupt the intensity of your work with occasional experiences of fun. That is why a hobby can be so important. For some people keeping a journal can be a way of caring for their emotional life. Exercise can care not only for the body but emotions as well.


Taking time to engage in the pleasure of relationships can also help our emotional state. God's statement in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good for humans to be alone speaks to a major truth that transcends though certainly includes the issue of sexuality. Good relationships are critical for our emotional health. This is the value of lunch or coffee with a clergy colleague.


Stop and make a list of the ways that you can interrupt the intensity of your life through some type of Sabbath experience. Add to the list other ways that you might try. Then intentionally practice healthy interruptions on a daily basis.


Listening to God's Spirit in a Congregation   
There are some theological assumptions under girding this idea.
First, the church is the Body of Christ. That means that the church is more than a human organization even though clearly also it is a human organization. There is something of the spirit involved in all that happens in a church  . Second, based on both the Gospels and the letters of Paul, the assumption is that the spirit is at work especially when the church is struggling with real issues in its life. In fact, God can use the challenges of a church as a context for speaking to it and guiding it in its faith journey. The spirit doesn't just speak when things are going smoothly or when people are at their faithful best but precisely when those things are not true.  Third, pastors can be most alive when they are responding to the call of God as a spiritual leader of a church. So one of the ways that the session can strengthen your pastor's ministry is to consciously enter that process with him or her.


Step 1: Ask the church leaders to identify the five most pressing issues facing the church at this time. These can be organizational issues, problems with upset members, failure to attract new members, spiritual dryness, financial problems, lack of commitment, etc. The point is that most leaders are aware of some of the major challenges facing a church but often they don't name them clearly.


Step 2:  Since this is the Body of Christ, and the current members, leaders, and pastors are the ones that God has invited to participate in this journey together, what is God trying to say to this church as it faces these issues. Other churches will have other issues and the message will be different but what is God trying to say in this particular church. This is not a problem solving discussion. Rather, the pastor and leaders are trying to identify the faith questions that are evident in a community of people facing these specific issues. In some cases, there may be more than one but try to identify the central one.
Step 3:  Take one question at a time. Allow for a time of meditative prayer and ask each member to consider what biblical story or liturgical event in the worship of the church comes to mind when they are reflecting on this faith question. It is not important that the person understand the connection but simply identify what comes to mind.
Step 4: Now allow the whole group to play with some of the biblical stories or liturgical acts identified and seek out possible connections.


Step 5: Even if you don't know how to respond, try to identify what God might be trying to say to the congregation in this circumstance.


The same steps can be repeated with the other issues. You might benefit from having some time intervene between step 2 and 3 and ask everyone to keep the issue and biblical stories in their prayers during the intervening time.  

Creative Triennial Visits  

The Book of Order mandates that the COM arrange crossfor a triennial visit to each congregation in the presbytery. The value of these triennial visits is enhanced if there have been prior positive exchanges between the churches and the presbytery COM. Consider possible ideas to build partnerships between congregations and the Committee on Ministry.


In the age of computers, the COM can gather a series of touchstones with respect to pastors and DCEs, such as ordination dates, anniversaries, birthdates, etc. and send a reminder to the congregations with respect to their staff. COM also can gather touchstones in congregational life and occasionally send the congregation a congratulatory message with respect to anniversaries, significant mission involvement, gifts shared with presbytery, etc. The gathering of such data is one of those defined tasks that the right volunteer(s), not necessarily a member of the COM, would do with pleasure.


The COM can emphasize the connectionalism of the Body of Christ by designing a joint visit with two congregations where each could hear what the other is doing in ministry. Every three years a new set of congregation-to-congregation visits can be designed. One variation might be a mini-mission-fair to involve several small congregations, guided by a COM visitor, to celebrate the potential of all the congregations. You are looking for opportunities for the congregation to feel good about their work as well as to see the potential for being a stronger part  of the larger church.


Whether during the visit, in a video, or through other communication, the resources that are available through the COM to assist in various areas can be identified. It will be helpful for the COM representative to make note of particularly creative ministries that might be shared with the whole presbytery. This can help build the bonds of the whole presbytery.


In preparation for these visits, the COM needs to brainstorm the potential signs to look for that can signal potential hot spots that might need to be addressed at a later date such as:

  • The lack of ease with which the pastor and the session communicate.
  • The negative impression that elders might have of presbytery.
  • Areas of ministry that they are reluctant to discuss.

While the triennial visit is normally not the time to engage in serious problem solving, it needs to be made clear that the COM is available to do that if it is desired. In every visit and communication, the people and addresses by which the congregation can contact the COM and presbytery staff are made available.


Sanctuary and the Returned Soldier   


With you always We have some significant resources in our faith that can assist us in being supportive to returned soldiers. As you consider how to respond, particularly to people who have been traumatized by their experiences, you will deepen your own appreciation of the faith.


First is the concept of sanctuary. Historically sanctuary is a place or setting to which you can withdraw and feel safe to rest and be restored. As Israel set up their society in their Promised Land, they established cities of refuge to which people could flee. (Numbers 35:9-34) Originally, this dealt with the problem of blood revenge but the concept of sanctuary has taken on many forms throughout history.  


As Numbers mentioned, it can be a place to which the alien within your land can flee. This aspect was developed by a number of churches with respect to Hispanic immigrants within our borders. Inherent in the concept of sanctuary is a place where one can withdraw from the threatening aspects of the world and connect with the healing presence of God.


Consider how churches might expand the concept of sanctuary to provide a safe place that veterans might retire to when they are feeling overwhelmed by either their emotions or the behavior of those around them. Our churches can draw upon the resources available to them to prepare appropriate scriptures, recorded music, and strong symbols placed in an unlocked sanctuary. It might also help to invite other members of our congregations to visit the sanctuary from time to time to enter into prayer on behalf of the veterans.


In a variety of media, the invitation is issued to all returned soldiers that at any hour of the day or night, they can go there for refuge. Resources are available to help them focus on the strengths inherent in their faith. Even when they are not there, they can know that others care about and are praying for them.  

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.
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.
Mission:  Nurturing the health of the Body of Christ through caring for its pastors.
Presbytery Pastoral Care Network
281 Limerick Road, Wexford, PA  15090