Creative Approach Leads Retired Pastors to Serve 10-member Congregation
Two years ago Glacier Presbytery faced a challenge that may not be unique to that presbytery—how to find effective pastoral leadership for a very small, very rural congregation. The congregation of Community Presbyterian Church in Whitlash, Montana, with its 10 members, provides a vital ministry to that area, being the only church in that ranching community. Their remoteness presented an additional difficulty, as they are located more than 20 miles from the nearest paved road. Over the years they had tried many methods of securing pastoral leadership, sharing with nearby churches from other denominations, making weekly calls seeking a pastor to fill the pulpit, and helping a local person become trained as a commissioned ruling elder. When their pulpit once again became vacant, they reached out to the presbytery, wondering if there was a way to have a teaching elder serve them, even though their funds were very limited.
Glacier Presbytery came up with a creative idea: invite retired pastors to come for just a year or two at a time. Since the workweek is limited to one or two days, they knew that a pastor would have time to explore Montana, write a book, or delve into a spiritual discipline. Even though the congregation did not have many financial resources, the presbytery and congregation joined together to provide an innovative compensation plan that included fly-fishing and archery lessons provided by nearby pastors, a book of the month about Montana, monthly goodie baskets, a small stipend and use of the manse.
They have now had two retired pastors come to serve their congregation, one from Texas and one from Florida. For the first time in decades the congregation had a choice and enjoyed interviewing prospective pastors.
Marsha Anson, General Presbyter/Stated Clerk, Glacier Presbytery
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Creative, loving, surprising God, we thank you that you continue to amaze us with your abundant love for your people. In deep gratitude we pray. Amen.