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Regarding Ruling Elders celebrates 10th anniversary


Parsons and Miller look back at resource that supports and nurtures ruling elders

June 2, 2024

“When I encounter healthy congregations of any size, I meet ruling elders who understand that their call is not to be on a board of directors but to be spiritual leaders along with the minister,” reflected the Rev. Gradye Parsons, who served as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 2008 to 2016. “Spiritual leaders tend to want to learn how to be more effective and faithful.”

This apt observation comes on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the Regarding Ruling Elders resource series, which was created while Parsons was Stated Clerk.

“Regarding Ruling Elders: A Monthly Series for Serving Faithfully” debuted in 2014 after a reorganization within the Office of the General Assembly, during a time when Parsons identified that more staff time and resources needed to focus on ruling elders. Ruling Elder Martha Miller, manager of Ministry Education and Support, was tapped to lead, design and edit the resource series, which serves the unique needs of ruling elders within PC(USA) churches. 

“We were looking for ways to assist with the formation of ruling elders, not just focusing on a particular training mechanism but how we can assist them as they serve and learn more about the church, themselves, their faith and how to serve faithfully,” said Miller. “That’s how those articles started.”

Now in its 10th year, what was supposed to be a three-year project has taken on a life of its own.

“I considered it a three-year project because a ruling elder’s term is typically three years. We’ll have three years of articles, stop creating new ones, and have those archives available. Well, once we saw how it was connecting with folks, it was very clear that we needed to keep going,” said Miller.

The articles initially focused on the responsibilities of ruling elders and their connections to those duties — topics like finance, worship and relationships with deacons. After that, the series transitioned from issues beyond polity and governing aspects of a ruling elder’s function and began looking at how they live as spiritual leaders within the church.

Since then, Regarding Ruling Elders has taken a thematic approach while still focusing on who ruling elders are and what they are called to be within the church. Part of that has included making the archives useable and searchable and ensuring the selected topics are continuously relevant. Today, not only are the articles within the archive organized by subject, but they are available in English, Spanish and Korean.

“These resources help ruling elders live into their important role in the church as they exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment and discipline. The saying ‘to know more is to do better’ sums up the hopes of the ruling elder resources,” said Parsons.

Miller’s work as editor of Regarding Ruling Elders complements Mid Council Ministries’ other programming for ruling elders and deacons, including “Nourish” episodes Miller hosts for the “Along the Road” podcast series and the Leader Formation webinar series.

Some of her recent resource highlights from Regarding Ruling Elders include the “Year of Leader Formation” series, focusing on the qualities of a leader, by the Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka, senior pastor at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, beginning with the article “Leaders Listen.” Another series highlight is “Coming Alive in Christ” by the Rev. Julie Coffman Hester, a pastor and writer in the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. It begins with “A Seat at the Table.” (Interested readers can discover the articles in both series on page 4 of the archive linked here.) 

Beyond the subjects and knowledgeable authors who have contributed to the series’ longevity and success, another highlight for Miller is when somebody finds out about the resources for the first time and says, “This is great. This is just what I needed.”

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 Mari Evans, Digital and Marketing Manager, Office of the General Assembly

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, June 2, 2024, the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Today’s Focus: Regarding Ruling Elders resource series celebrates 10th anniversary

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Ellie Johns-Kelley, Ministry Relations Officer, Presbyterian Foundation 
Alonzo Johnson, Coordinator, Self-Development of People, Compassion, Peace & Justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency 

Let us pray

Gracious God, help us to continually look for you in all of Creation and help us always to be a blessing in your sight. Amen.