Sunday, January 13
The Lord’s Day
Minute for Mission: University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
The changing landscape of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has led to the development of a variety of models for pastoral ministry. In an era when many smaller congregations cannot support a full-time ordained teaching elder, yoked and union congregations are commonplace, and sharing pastoral leadership, even across denominational lines, is a valuable option for ministry. Commissioned ruling elders (formerly known as commissioned lay pastors or CLPs) are often used by presbyteries to meet the need for pastoral leadership in particular congregations, especially in situations that find calling or supporting an ordained pastor difficult.
The advent of commissioned ruling elders (CREs) reaffirms the Reformation idea of the “priesthood of all believers.” Most CREs are active leaders in their congregations who have been recognized for their faithfulness and service. While training and commissioning are the responsibility of the presbytery, standards of preparation have varied widely across the church.
In 2001 the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary recognized the need for consistent, quality education for CLPs and began offering online courses designed to prepare elders for this important task. Over the past 12 years, UDTS has provided online training for more than 1,200 CLP/CRE students in the areas of Bible, pastoral care, worship, preaching, Christian education, Reformed theology, and polity. In addition, every year in early June CREs from around the country are invited to gather on the UDTS campus for the National CRE Conference, which offers several days of continuing education, fellowship, and mutual support. Spirits are renewed, ideas shared, and callings confirmed as CREs also enjoy the beauty of this historic Mississippi River city. As we enter a new era in the church, developing and educating leaders, both lay and ordained, will continue as the mission of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
—Richard J. Shaffer Jr., associate dean and assistant professor of ministry, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
Let us pray
Loving God, thank you for the call that you put in our hearts and the gifts that you share in our lives. May we be ever aware of your work in our midst as we strive to be your faithful people. Amen.
Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens
The God of Heaven
Come, O Spirit
Luke 3:15–17, 21–22
Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized