As church membership around the denomination and within in the Presbytery declines, congregations are challenged to find imaginative ways to continue doing strong, faithful ministry. Anchor Presbyterian Church (The Anchor) is taking a new approach to its pastoral leadership by inviting recent Princeton Seminary graduate, Ms. Leah Miller to lead and guide their church as Minister Intern. With coaching from nearby Pastor of Woodside Church, Rev. Doug Hoglund, Ms. Miller is thriving in her first year of ministry while a candidate for ordination in the Presbytery. Rev. Hoglund moderates The Anchor’s session and offers his experience and advice where needed.
Located in Wrightstown, PA, The Anchor is a church of about 60 members, with an average of 30 in worship on Sunday morning. The congregation’s connection with Woodside enables this smaller church to have access to Bible study curricula, videos for use in worship, and other resources. Both churches partnered in The Church Has Left the Building, an effort to encourage congregations to spend a Sunday in service outreach. The youth groups join together for lock-ins, mission projects, and a summer ministry camp. Working together in ministry, Woodside Church is able to share its resources and The Anchor is able to maintain its unique identity as a warm, intimate congregation.
As Minister Intern, Ms. Miller led The Anchor’s first international mission trip to the Dominican Republic this summer, partnering with Wayne Presbyterian Church and Foundation for Peace. With Rev. Hoglund’s coaching and Woodside Church’s willingness to share resources and ideas, The Anchor is able to thrive when financial restrictions would otherwise limit them to a low level of pastoral leadership and assets. Ms. Miller has found this model to be energizing and uplifting for The Anchor, as the congregation is impassioned to serve Christ and shape disciples in this new way. Ms. Miller proclaims, “God does amazing things amongst God’s people, and if we remain open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches, we will see such things. We need to be more focused on partnering with one another and encouraging one another in ministry instead of being fearful of whose church is growing larger than ours.”
The coaching and sharing of resources between Woodside Church and The Anchor is a strong testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit doing a new thing in the Presbytery of Philadelphia.
At times we find we are only limited by our own imaginations. May this new way of being a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the world inspire us all to think creatively about doing ministry in the world today.