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Latest Update on the Cultivating the Gift of Preaching Initiative from Director Matt Aragon-Bruce

As I write this, I have been on the job as the director of the Cultivating the Gift of Preaching Initiative for seven weeks to the day. Over that time, I have attended eight presbytery meetings, and will attend two more by the end of next week. I can hear some of you groaning… But the truth is that attending these meetings and getting to know elders, commissioners, pastors, and presbytery staff across our synod, has been, for me at least, an unexpected source of joy.

 

Nearly everyone in leadership that I know across the PCUSA, and in other mainline denominations as well, lives with near constant background anxiety about the state of the church, particularly the steady decline in numbers (of members, pastors, etc.). Indeed, my position is, at least in part, a symptom of this decline as it is driven by the need to identify and train “lay” preachers because of a shortage of teaching elders to fill pulpits.

But what I have encountered – and what has been that source of joy -- as I have travelled (both in person and digitally) from presbytery to presbytery are numerous faithful disciples who are called to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. We are not lacking in gifts for proclaiming the Gospel in our synod (and I suspect in the PCUSA as a whole as well). In fact, we have a wealth of people across our 11 presbyteries who are gifted by the Spirit to proclaim the good news. But one example: The Presbytery of Western Reserve sent me the names of 13 (!) emergent preachers who desire further formation so as to hone their gifts for preaching. Many of them have already been preaching and Western Reserve has recognized their gifts and so recommended them to our Initiative to further cultivate their Spirit-given gifts. If I might be so bold, I challenge you other presbytery leaders who have yet to send me names to top them!

 

Our website has just recently been updated and you can find more information about the Initiative here. The application is available on the Synod web page, and we are ready to begin receiving and processing applications now. We ask that interested individuals complete the application by April 5th.

 

The Initiative will begin formally June 6-10 with a conference hosted at Alma College where participants will hear lectures and participate in workshops on interpreting the bible, an overview of Reformed theology, writing and delivering sermons, and much more.

 

You can support our Initiative to Cultivate the Gift of Preaching in at least two ways. First, by praying that God will continue to raise up emergent preachers across our synod. Second, by sending us names of individuals who are so called and would benefit from further formation of their preaching gifts.

 

Dr. Matt Aragon Bruce

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