While our congregations and ministries reach specific populations within specific contexts, more and more the value of sharing our resources and working together proves to be a valuable, effective way to share the Good News with the world. Under the leadership and vision of then Acting Associate for Congregational Initiatives Rev. Jim Poinsett, the Commission on Resources and Communications created the Great Ends Grants to reframe available grant monies to foster new ministry initiatives and encourage churches to pool resources and talent for leadership development and church growth.
Two churches which have already taken advantage of such support are Ivyland Presbyterian Church, under the guidance of Rev. Sarah Weisiger, and Carmel Presbyterian Church, under the guidance of Rev. Abigail Visco Rusert. Both churches are being assisted by the Church Leadership Development Fund (one component of the Great Ends Grants) to hold resource events open to everyone in the Presbytery.
Ivyland Presbyterian Church is encouraging the Presbytery to view “Stewardship as Discipleship,” offering a stewardship retreat with the goal of broadening church stewardship seasons and reflecting upon God’s abundance. Held at Kirkwood Camp and Conference Center Friday, September 19 – Saturday, September 20, the retreat will feature Rev. Nancy Muth, former Head-of-Staff of the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown and Rev. Sarah Weisiger, former Chair of the Stewardship Committee, Newton Presbytery. Bringing together valuable experience and expertise is a great opportunity for church leaders, pastors and laity, looking for efficient ways to improve their congregation’s theological and practical outlook on stewardship. Retreat participants will leave with both a solid faith-based understanding of stewardship as well as practical ideas to implement in their congregations.
Carmel Presbyterian Church is joining with Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry, offering “Youth Ministry in Small Churches” to equip church leaders as they minister to its younger members. Whereas traditional youth programs are created with 20+ youth in mind, the reality is that most youth groups average 8 people. Rather than try to fit a smaller group of youth into a program intended for a larger number, smaller churches are discovering new ways to disciple their younger members, as well as assets to being a smaller-sized ministry. The training event is being held at Carmel Presbyterian Church Friday, October 3 – Saturday, October 4. This event will provide youth leaders with solid theological and faith-based reasons for youth ministry, as well as take-home ideas for how their youth ministry can function in their small church. Rev. Abigail Visco Rusert is taking on the position of Assistant Director of the seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry this fall, and provides an excellent connection for the Presbytery as she ends her call at Carmel Presbyterian Church and begins at the seminary.
With assistance from the Great Ends Grants, passion from Revs. Weisiger and Rusert, and a willingness to try something new from the congregations in Ivyland and at Carmel, these two events are a rich opportunity for church leaders in the Presbytery to glean valuable insight and knowledge to doing ministry in the world today. This is a worthy asset especially for smaller churches that may not have the expertise, funding, or people to invest in their own stewardship and youth ministry resources. Praise be to God for these exciting opportunities in our Presbytery!