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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Presbytery of Des Moines

Training event designed to strengthen presbytery leadership for changing times

July 7, 2016

As executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Elona Street-Stewart is increasingly aware of the changes swirling through the 16 presbyteries within her synod.

One presbytery has been looking for an interim to succeed an executive who retired. Two presbyteries are sharing a stated clerk. Other presbyteries are sharing administrative staff and exploring cooperative models of mission.

Everyone is asking, “How do we deal with the transitions that are coming at us?” Street-Stewart says.

That is why she was excited when staff from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of the General Assembly (OGA) approached her about helping make arrangements for a new kind of training event. The training would be designed to equip teams of people to meet the diverse leadership needs of their presbyteries, especially in the midst of change.

The first such event, called “Practical Presbytery Leadership Training: Teamwork for Changing Times,” is scheduled for August 26–27 at Central Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa.

“We chose the Presbytery of Des Moines because they are in a time of transition,” says Sue Krummel, director for mid council relations for OGA and the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “And within driving distance of Des Moines are several other presbyteries in transition.”

Presbyteries are encouraged to send teams of as many as five or six so that “a broader group of people” can be trained to lead, Krummel explains. The training will benefit those serving as presbytery executives, stated clerks, and moderators, or in other leadership roles such as members of visioning or transition teams.

Too often, people trained for particular roles take all the knowledge with them when they leave. “We ought to be training a system rather than training a person,” Krummel says.

“We’ve tried to keep the cost reasonable,” she adds. There will be no charge for meals or registration. Presbyteries will need to pay only for transportation and one night in a hotel.

The event is timely because “the climate of leadership of presbyteries has changed dramatically,” Krummel says.

Until now, the only training available for presbytery executives has consisted of annual sessions to be completed over a three-year period. But the current model is not working for many presbyteries, Krummel says. Not all presbyteries are hiring “executives,” and many that do are giving them broader job descriptions and new titles, such as “pastor to the presbytery.”

Turnover of presbytery staff makes the three-year training model less practical. Also, says Krummel, “it can be a financial burden for some presbyteries.”

The training model premiering in August will include speakers and videos, with time between segments for participants to discuss and digest what they have heard. The videos will be available for participants to use after they return home.

“We want to provide both information and inspiration,” Krummel says, adding that the Des Moines event is a trial run. If the event is successful, she envisions similar events being offered three or four times a year in various parts of the country.

Street-Stewart hopes the event will enable presbytery leaders to look beyond the pressing need “to fill a hole in their staff.” She would like for them to “see transition as a dynamic of moving on to a future together.”

To register for the training, email

Click here to download the Practical Presbytery Leadership Training brochure.

{Korean translation link :}

변화의 시기 동안 노회 리더십을 강화하기 위해 기획된 훈련 행사

Eva Stimson, Correspondent, Office of the General Assembly

Let us join in prayer for:

Presbytery Staff:

David Hamilton, Stated Clerk
Goanar Chol, Sudanese Resource Person
Katherine Pater, Mission Co-worker in El Salvador
Betty Dyer, Office Manager
Nancy Lister-Settle, Hunger Action Enabler
Cindy Eklund, Communications Coordinator

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Bob Abrams, PMA
Simone Adams-Andrade, PMA

Let us pray

Gracious Father, equip us to encourage those we seek to help, revealing Christ through the way we live. Form us, O God, into a people who praise your name in actions and deeds. Christ be with us. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 116; 147:12-20
First Reading Deuteronomy 3:18-28
Second Reading Romans 9:19-33
Gospel Reading Matthew 24:1-14
Evening Psalms 26; 130