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What's New in CRE Ministry

Updated: Mar 4

Mother Teresa once stated, “My call is not to serve the poor. My call is to follow Jesus.” In God So Love the City, Jude Tiersma reflects on these words by writing, “The need is not the call.” There is certainly need connected to all of our calls, but the need does not define the call.

This is true for commissioned pastors, also known as Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs). A CRE is defined by their call to follow Jesus into joyful service. But all too often, we define the call of the commissioned pastor from a place of need. The need is great in many of our presbyteries with small congregations in need of pastoral leadership without the resources to support a full- or even half-time pastor. CREs are defined by the need to patch and repair, not for building the kingdom. We see in other areas of the work of councils that when we call faithful people because we need to fill a position on a committee, a session, or a council, we are not truly discerning call.

Our Book of Order describes the calling process of the commissioned pastor in this way: “When the presbytery, in consultation with the session or other responsible committee, determines that its strategy for mission requires it, the presbytery may authorize a ruling elder to be commissioned to limited pastoral service as assigned by the presbytery” (G-2.1001). The commissioning of a ruling elder to pastoral service begins with discernment between presbytery and session of mission. There is a faithful conversation of mission and call, not the rush to fill a need. As I begin this year serving as the Synod of the Covenant CRE Coordinator, I want us to begin our conversations around the unique call of the commissioned pastor, not the needs to the presbytery. I don’t want to discuss what we lack in our presbyteries, but what is the mission of our councils and member congregations. And when we know the call and the mission, we can begin to invite sisters, brothers, and siblings into the joyful service of the Lord.

The Peace of Christ!

Tim Pollock

CRE Coordinator for the Synod of the Covenant



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