It is hard enough to be a pastor, but being the pastor of two churches at the same time is a challenge not just anyone can accept. Pastor Paul Snyder, resident in the For Such a Time as This (FSATAT) Class of 2012, accepted that challenge a year ago. Two small churches in North Dakota had been functioning without a pastor for more than twenty years when they found relief and support from the FSATAT program of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
For Such a Time as This was designed to renew and grow small churches and help them to become healthy, missional congregations. The program pairs small, underserved congregations in rural, small town, and urban settings with recent seminary graduates in a two-year pastoral-residency relationship, during which they are supported and guided by a cluster of pastor-mentors.
Snyder serves Glencoe-Sloan Presbyterian Church in Bismarck and First Presbyterian Church of Wilton, North Dakota, with passion and dedication. He takes pride in the Glencoe church having celebrated its first Sunday school in thirty years.
“The church started with ten people in worship, and now we’ve had Sundays with up to fifty people,” he said.
On the other hand, the Wilton church has become a place for the youth, with a Sunday school attendance of more than fifteen kids. During the week, the kids visit the church’s office in the afternoons in search of a closer relationship with the pastor. Snyder dreams about an after-school program for the community so that the kids can continue to have a safe place for fellowship and support every afternoon.
The FSATAT mentoring element and support group have been helpful in this growing process, according to Snyder.
“Listening to other pastors sharing their joys and concerns makes me feel like I’m not alone,” he said.
The two churches are fifty miles apart and have very different groups of people who bring different experiences to Snyder while the FSATAT continues to provide support.