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Read What's New in CRE Ministry from Coordinator Tim Pollock

Benefits of a CRE Program

I have been serving as your Coordinator for Commissioned Ruling Elder ministry for close to three months now, and I have had the chance to talk with leaders in several presbyteries. In these initial discussions, I have found that a robust CRE training and support program offers several benefits for the vision and mission of Presbyteries and Sessions.

  1. Increased Engagement between Sessions and Presbytery around Mission: The commissioning of ruling elders to pastoral service, as per the Book of Order G-2.1001, requires a “consultation” between the Presbytery and Session on the strategy of mission. This vital conversation becomes a place where Session and Presbytery leaders discern shared mission and how leadership development is a part of the mission.

  2. Increased Participation of Ruling Elders in Presbytery: Commissioned pastors participate at Presbytery on a different level than ruling elder commissioners. Normally, a Session elects ruling elder to serve as commissioners, but a commissioned pastor participates at Presbytery as a pastor of the church (Presbyteries may need to adjust bylaws to correctly seat commissioned pastors as voters and temporary members of the Presbytery). Since commissioned pastors are still technically ruling elders, CREs can increase ruling elder participation at the Presbytery, and even General Assembly, level. We have seen this increased engagement in my Presbytery, Muskingum Valley. As Stated Clerk, we updated our bylaws to clarify CRE Pastors as voters and temporary members. We have also had several CREs serve as our Ruling Elder commissioner to General Assembly.

  3. Increase Leadership Representation of Underrepresented Communities: If there is a congregation of an underrepresented community in a Presbytery, the Presbytery can invite ruling elders from the community to be trained as a commissioned pastor to serve their community. Instead of seeking pastors outside of the Presbytery, pastoral leaders may already be called from within their own communities. This benefit is one that came out of a meeting with presbytery leaders actively working towards better representation in leadership. I had not initially thought of this approach, but I think it has a lot of potential!

  4. Innovation in the Training of Pastors: Because each Presbytery is responsible for the training and support of CREs, there is an opportunity for Presbytery and Session leaders to develop new ways of thinking and new approaches to pastoral training. This is an area where the Presbytery does not need to work though the councils of General Assembly but can implement innovation at a much faster pace. I have also seen how a focus on innovative CRE training can also grow a develop Ruling Elder training and workshops by the Presbytery.

Commissioned Ruling Elder training can be a faithful opportunity for implementing vision and mission, and to broaden the ministry of Presbyteries and Sessions.

CRE Tim Pollock

CRE/CP Coordinator


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