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From your Synod Executive: October 2023

With all of the good things we can do, what are the most important things we should do? That’s a question that every church and presbytery (and anyone else with a budget, for that matter) wrestles with every year, and it’s one that the Synod is entering into as we move closer to 2024. We work hard to follow the guidance of your presbytery’s executive/general presbyter or stated clerk, and I wanted to share with you our priorities for next year.

The first priority the presbytery leaders identified was support for racial justice ministries. This might take many forms: continuing the work of connecting congregations of color that our Organizer of Synod Communities of Color Lindsey Anderson has done so well in 2022-23; offering training to strengthen churches’ and presbyteries’ antiracism efforts; and helping presbyteries and churches develop antiracism policies, a new mandate from the Book of Order.

The second priority is to focus our leadership equipping on boundaries training, with our partner LeaderWise. Each presbytery has a policy on how often leaders need to attend this training, but by offering it by zoom each one does not have to provide it themselves. This gives leaders more choices and saves presbyteries a lot of money.

The third priority is Synod support for Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs), sometimes also called Commissioned Pastors. So many of our ruling elders sense a call to serve congregations even more substantially than a seat on session, and an increasing number of our churches find CREs fit their needs more closely than installed pastors. In 2024 we will explore how presbyteries might establish joint training standards for CREs so that these important leaders could more easily serve across presbytery lines.

A related goal along with supporting CREs is a program to train elders and other church leaders to preach. We hope to hear back soon from the Lilly Endowment about an application for a grant to support these efforts. Say a prayer!

By focusing on these priorities, we will leave some ministries behind. You’ll see fewer opportunities for leadership equipping from LeaderWise and other providers, but we will explore whether panels of experts in the Synod on various topics might be a way to continue to support growth among our leaders.

Thanks for praying for the work of the Synod in 2024—and beyond!

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD Executive phone number 309-530-4578

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