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Registration open for conference supporting commissioned pastors and ruling elders


Co-Moderators say they hear the need for peer support from all over the country

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Shown here presiding at the communion table are Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, co-moderators of the 223rd General Assembly. The two say they’re excited about the May 13-16 conference designed to support, educate and empower commissioned pastors and commissioned ruling elders. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — As one of their final offerings of leadership service to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly are holding a conference for commissioned pastors and commissioned ruling elders, who mainly serve small Presbyterian congregations all across the nation.

The “Empowering Commissioned Pastors: A Heart for Ministry” conference is set for May 13-16 at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church, 3901 North Star Road in Richardson, Texas, a Dallas suburb.

Registration is now open. Learn more or register by clicking here. Early registration closes March 23. Regular registration ends April 15.

The Commissioned Pastors Network of the Synod of the Sun is hosting the conference. Limited scholarships for commissioned pastors and commissioned ruling elders are available.

Co-Moderators the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri are both scheduled to offer plenary talks during the four-day conference.

“We are grateful to the Synod of the Sun and to the steering committee for planning this conference,” Cintrón-Olivieri  said. “We are grateful leaders from different presbyteries that are active participants in planning the conference. This is a true community effort and a reflection of who we are as a connected church.”

“As we’ve traveled across the PC(USA), Vilmarie and I have seen so many presbyteries doing creative ministry with commissioned ruling elders/commissioned lay pastors,” Kohlmann said, “and so many amazing people answering a call to serve the body of Christ through this particular role.”

The co-moderators say people engaged in commissioned ministry across the denomination have consistently asked just one thing of the Church.

“Almost everywhere we’ve gone, these CREs and CLPs have expressed a desire to gather with their peers, others who are commissioned to the pastoral role and who have wisdom specific to that role through years of ministry,” Kohlmann said. “We’re so grateful to the Synod of the Sun and the planning team for taking up a dream of a national conference for commissioned pastors and making it a reality!”

According to a preliminary schedule, the conference will open with frontline stories of commissioned pastors in action. On that opening day, May 13, the co-moderators will be available during an after-dinner discussion time.

The remainder of the conference includes worship, workshops and plenaries. Two “getting connected” sessions designed to get participants to hear stories from others engaged in commissioned lay ministry will be facilitated by the conference steering team.

More than 10 workshops will be offered. The list of workshop offerings includes help with preaching and pastoral care, self-care for commissioned pastors, technology helps along with Christian education in small church settings, help leading worship and special services, developing congregational leadership, dealing with conflict in congregations and tapping into PC(USA) resources available to commissioned pastors.

According to the conference website, people training to become commissioned pastors are welcome to attend the conference.

“This conference will be all about and for commissioned pastors in all the varied circumstances and ways that CPs serve the Church,” the website states. In addition to the leadership and presence of the co-moderators, “the event will also feature excellent workshops that will support commissioned pastors and strengthen skills and ministry. This conference is focused on empowering commissioned pastors as they serve an increasing portion of our PC(USA) congregations.”

The fee for early registration is $125. Registration is $150 between March 24 and April 15. Lunches and dinners are included with the registration fee. Free breakfast is offered at each of the event hotels, which include the Holiday Inn in North Garland, La Quinta Dallas-Wylie, Holiday Inn and Suites in Plano and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Richardson.

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