Pastor fulfills calling to serve the Church through Church Consultant role

The Reverend Dr. Douglas Portz has found a rewarding ministry with the Board of Pensions, helping those who work in the Church on their journey toward emotional, spiritual, and financial health. "It is amazing work," he said. 

The Reverend Dr. Douglas Portz has served The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the role of Church Consultant since July 2015. Prior to his work at the Board, Doug served as a pastor to four congregations over the course of 23 years.

Doug, who currently serves as a Senior Consultant for presbyteries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, talks about transitioning from congregational ministry to ministry at the Board of Pensions, and why he views his role with the Board as a rewarding way of fulfilling his calling and serving the Church.

When you first accepted the role of Church Consultant, what appealed to you about ministry with the Board of Pensions?

Doug: Having served the Church as a pastor of several congregations and as an executive pastor of a large presbytery, I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to use the accumulated skills I had gained over the years to serve the Church in a new way. I had a desire to be challenged professionally and to learn new things.

It was important to me to be part of a Church-related organization that was clear about its mission. Being a part of a team effort with everyone pulling in the same direction was important as well. As I stepped into the role of Church Consultant, I enjoyed the positive and creative spirit of the highly dedicated, passionate people with whom I am privileged to work.  All of them are quality, highly dedicated, faithful servants.  

I also found the high accountability, mission-focused culture of the Board of Pensions to be refreshing. I discovered that the work equipped me to support pastors and their congregations in numerous fulfilling ways. … Working at one of the six General Assembly agencies was not on my radar screen when I first felt God's nudge to do something different in ministry, but … I have found this to be a very rewarding way of fulfilling my calling and serving the Church.  

How do you serve the Church in your role?

Doug: The Board of Pensions desires the health and wholeness of those God calls into ministry and Christian service. Many of its programs, benefits, and resources go toward strengthening and supporting servants of our Lord. Being a Church Consultant and working in the field to engage pastors and congregations with messages of health, wholeness, shalom — as well as churches with ways in which they can be better employers — is rewarding work. … Participating in ministry at the Board of Pensions as a Church Consultant is one way in which I believe I play a crucial role in building up the Body of Christ.

How do you see yourself still living out a call to ministry through your work at the Board of Pensions?

Doug: I believe working at the Board of Pensions as a Church Consultant is a "calling." A person who takes on this challenge, I believe, must have a knowledge and love of the Church.

I know how hard ministry can be. I know the emotional, spiritual, and financial challenges pastors face. No one should have to feel like they are doing ministry alone. The Board of Pensions seeks to come alongside those who work in the Church to help them along the journey. Helping church workers become emotionally, spiritually, and financially healthy is a joy. It is amazing work.

What do you like best about your role as a Church Consultant?

Doug: I like the wonderful people with whom I have the privilege of working.  All those who work at the Board of Pensions do excellent work.  All of us support one another. … We know we can count on one another for encouragement, challenge, accountability, humor, prayer, and for getting the answers we need to do the work.

Lastly, I like the feeling that I am making a difference in the lives of those who are called to work in the Church. It is exciting to learn about new initiatives and programs being developed at the Board of Pensions, then playing a role in educating others about the opportunities available to them. It is energizing to see the positive results of one's work. People share with me all the time how appreciative they are of the Board of Pensions' work. It is nice to work in a well-respected organization whose heart is in the right place.