Seven presbyteries in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and West Virginia have been selected as the 2013 partners for the fourth year of For Such a Time as This, an innovative pastoral residency program designed to serve underserved congregations and develop missional pastors.
Launched by the Presbyterian Mission Agency in fall 2009, 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. Since For Such a Time as This began, 22 recent seminary graduates are serving 26 congregations in 10 presbyteries.
The program’s ministry settings for 2013 comprise 13 small congregations—some in yoked or multi-point parishes—for a total of 11 residency placements in the presbyteries of Florida, Heartland, Missouri Union, Northern Kansas, Southeastern Illinois, Tampa Bay, and West Virginia. In order to qualify as partner presbyteries, each applicant was asked to identify several small churches that would serve as especially good learning settings for first-call pastors.
In announcing the 2013 partner presbyteries—four of which are new to For Such a Time as This—the Rev. Cindy Cushman, the program’s coordinator, said that she was excited by the “new models and opportunities for ministry” presented by this year’s applicants.
The Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois, for example, proposed a unique and different team approach to pastoral leadership, in which two pastoral residents will be called to serve three congregations in partnership with a part-time interim pastor, who is already in place at one of the churches.
“In the southern portion of our presbytery, we have 9-10 churches which have been underserved by installed teaching elders for many years,” said the Rev. Anne Jones, the presbytery’s transitional executive for Congregational Care. “The presbytery believes that this will be a fantastic learning experience and something that has potential to present a new model for ministry for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as we all move to the future. We are hopeful this new way of doing things will foster growth and strengthen all of our Presbyterian churches in this area and want to thank the For Such a Time as This leadership team for being willing to walk with us on this new adventure.”
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