For Such a Time as This: A Small Church Residency — Growing Leaders, Growing Churches has announced recruitment plans for a new class of residency presbyteries, congregations and pastoral residents.

Launched by the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) in Fall 2009, For Such a Time as This: A Small Church Residency — Growing Leaders, Growing Churches is a timely and innovative program that pairs small, underserved congregations with recent seminary graduates in a two-year pastoral residency relationship. The program was designed to renew the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by equipping new pastors to grow small churches Deep and Wide in evangelism, discipleship, servanthood and diversity.

While For Such a Time as This was originally conceived as a four year pilot program (2010-2013), funded in large part by an anonymous foundation, the GAMC is committed to the program’s continuation.

The program’s name, For Such a Time as This, from the Old Testament book of Esther, draws a parallel between Esther’s unexpected rise to leadership in her own day and the PC(USA)’s call for leaders to serve in a rapidly changing and challenging 21st-century context.About 4,000 of the denomination’s more than 10,000 congregations average fewer than 50 people in attendance each Sunday.

During the program’s first two years, 16 pastoral residents were recruited and placed in residency congregations.  While resourcing those residents and their presbyteries, the residency staff team is developing a plan for the program’s long-term sustainability.

“In its first year, For Such a Time as This has already demonstrated some of the key ingredients needed for healthy, growing congregations,” said the Rev. Marcia Clark Myers, director of the PC(USA)’s Office of Vocation, which oversees the program. “Since the inaugural class of pastoral residents accepted God’s call to venture into the unknown a year ago, their congregations are already experiencing growth. We are thrilled to be able to extend this important program through another cycle.”

In order to allow for a longer timeline for presbyteries to identify small, underserved congregations with good potential for growth that would make healthy learning settings for a first call pastor, the application deadline for residency presbyteries for the Class of 2012 has been moved from mid-December to January 31, 2012.

“Our pastor Jason is an answer to prayer,” said Ted Martin a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church in Holden, Mo., which is served by Class of 2010 pastoral resident the Rev. Jason Ku. “We started with one kid and about 12 people [in worship]. Since Jason’s been here, we have almost reached 50 people and about 14 kids now, and we’re still growing.”

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Visit the For Such a Time as This website for further information and application forms, or email the residency staff team with questions and inquiries.