Elders, pastors and other church leaders attending the Big Tent’s National Elders Conference June 30-July 2 will receive the tools, resources and inspiration “to lead in healthy, bold and dangerous ways.”

That’s the promise of Peggy Owens, a member of the conference planning team and the associate general presbyter for education and mission in Mid-Kentucky Presbytery.

The focus will be on Spirit-led leadership, she said.

“The session is much more than a board of directors of a congregation,” Owens explained. “[Elders’] calling is to a lifelong engagement in leadership, not just filling a seat around the session table.”

Elders will be encouraged to live into their calling to be spiritual leaders of their congregations and the larger church, Owens said. To help equip them for leadership, workshops on worship leadership, healthy systems, Sabbath-keeping, stewardship and discipleship will be offered.

The plan all along has been to “equip as well as encourage,” Owens said. Attendees will leave the conference “with resources and skills that can be immediately implemented in the ministry of their congregations.”

“Our polity,” she said, referring to the church’s form of government, “works as it should only when elders and deacons are empowered for holy and effective leadership. We have outstanding leadership and a rich vision for the conference.”

Speakers include Cindy Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010); Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly; Laura Mendenhall, past president of Columbia Theological Seminary and currently senior philanthropy advisor for the Texas Presbyterian Foundation; and Peter Steinke, a congregational systems consultant, who will deliver a keynote address he’s calling “Apocalypse or Evangelical Moment?”

“I’m personally excited about this event,” Owens said. “The ministry of church officers is vital to the Presbyterian Church, from the smallest congregations to the PC(USA) as a whole.”

Mike Ferguson is a member of the United Presbyterian Church in Lone Tree, Iowa, and a reporter for the “Muscatine Journal,” the newspaper where Mark Twain got his start. A regular contributor to Presbyterian News Service, he will be covering the National Elders Conference at Big Tent for PNS.