And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together …
There is no doing it alone. Congregations, mid councils, agencies — none of us can support the transformative change our Church needs or build ministerial leadership for the future by ourselves.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together, we cannot help ourselves: "… the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word … a bearer and proclaimer of the divine work of salvation."
There are challenges that we as a communion must take on, and we're going to have to do that through engagement with each other. This year, the Board will continue working on building connections, including those involved in calling ministers and hiring employees. Without them, our efforts to support congregational ministry will be limited.
The Board's Church Consultants, who are located throughout the country, work with individual churches and presbyteries. Recently, we shifted some assignments to make sure we had at least one Consultant in every region with a lot of Presbyterians. One Consultant is now also working out of the Presbyterian Center, in Louisville.
This spring, the Consultants will host our third annual Benefits Connections. There will be 11 of these one-day gatherings, all over the country, to give as many people as possible an opportunity to attend.
Past participants give Benefits Connections high marks. "I found it helpful to hear the underlying philosophy behind BOP decisions as well as to get the details of what is offered," one said last year. "Now we can create a complete benefits package for our employees that shows them we care and that is cost-effective to the church."
Supporting congregational ministry remains a continued area of focus for the Board. Lilly Endowment Inc. recently awarded us a $1 million grant to help transition Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations into a program of national scope and impact. If you're interested, read more about how Healthy Pastors can help your congregation and your pastor with financial challenges.
Like those addressed in the Letter to the Hebrews, we are being tested. Our Stated Clerk, the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, has said that we are challenged to respond to a new contextual reality, that the world is just not the same.
Transformation is the response, and we all need to be involved. So, let's not neglect meeting together. Let's engage in conversation.
Grace and peace,
The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer