Changing lives, growing churches
"Yes, we are alive. Yes, we do have a future. Yes, God is still at work in our church. There is more we can do."
- Sara Bramlett, Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Pontotoc, Miss., For Such a Time as This residency site
In September 2010, when the General Assembly Mission Council boldly commissioned six recent seminary graduates to serve small congregations through the For Such a Time as This program, only God could have envisioned the lives that would be changed and the hope that would be renewed.
For Such a Time as This: A Small Church Residency — Growing Leaders, Growing Churches is a timely and innovative program that pairs small, underserved congregations with recent seminary graduates in a two-year pastoral residency relationship during which they are supported and guided by a network of pastor/mentors, presbytery, seminary, and national church leaders.
Since the inaugural class of pastoral residents accepted God’s call to venture into the unknown less than one year ago, their congregations are already experiencing amazing growth in evangelism, discipleship, servanthood and diversity.
The Rev. Jason Ku, a member of the Class of 2010, was called last October to serve as designated pastor of the 26-member First Presbyterian Church of Holden, Mo. Since Ku’s arrival, the church - which had been over a decade without a full-time resident pastor – has grown in worship attendance by 139%.
“Jason, to me, is an answer to a prayer,” said Ted Martin, an elder at the Holden church. “We started with one kid and about 12 people [in worship]. Since Jason’s been here, we almost reached 50 people and about 13, 14 kids now, and we’re still growing. He is an answer to prayer….He is a major asset to not only our church but the whole community.”
As the ten members of the Class of 2011 anticipate their commissioning in August to serve congregations in Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, and West Virginia, only God can imagine the lives that will be changed and the churches that will be renewed in a rapidly changing and challenging 21st century context, in which about 4,000 of the PC(USA)’s over 10,000 congregations average less than 50 people in attendance each Sunday.
As a denomination, we are learning that to be successful, pastors of small congregations need the support of their congregation and the peer interaction of other neighboring pastors. For Such a Time as This: A Small Church Residency — Growing Leaders, Growing Churches is designed to accomplish that and so much more.
Your gifts to this program will help grow Christ’s church deep and wide by reenergizing and renewing our small congregations. … For Such a Time as This.