Pandemic Ponderings
from the Transitional Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley
August 30, 2021
Dear friends,
Yes, we are all tired of the pandemic. Our staff had extended exposure last Friday to a person who later that day found out she had COVID. Consequently, we will be working remotely this week as the staff all get tested. We anticipate being back in the building on September 7. We are committed to everyone’s safety and to having the office be a safe space. You can reach us on our cell numbers. Tammy’s is (205) 240-7751 and mine is (520) 490-1261. If you need to reach someone else, please call one of us for their number. So far no one on the staff is having any symptoms, but we are quarantining till we know for sure that we are negative. Be careful and stay safe out there!
But today I wanted to lift up the Commissioned Ruling Elders or Commissioned Lay Pastors in our presbytery. One of the joys of my summer was to join with the CRE’s for their annual required training. Dr. Mark McCormick, Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Stillman College led the all-day course. His insights into the major prophets made for riveting instruction and great discussion.
And, believe me, it’s an impressive group! We currently have 18 women and men who are active graduates of our Lay Pastor Training. The training includes taking online classes at Dubuque Theological Seminary in Bible, Theology, Polity, Reformed Worship and Church History. It’s a rigorous course of study and preparation. As the name implies, Commissioned Ruling Elders are ruling elders whose sessions have endorsed them for the study. Once the study is complete, they await a commission often serving while they wait, on the pulpit supply list and preaching across the presbytery when needed. Nine churches in this presbytery are currently served ably by CRE’s who have been commissioned to that church. The commission, overseen by the presbytery through its Commission on Ministry, enables them to preside over all pastoral duties of the church including moderating session, preaching, presiding at the sacraments, marrying, and burying, and providing pastoral care. Many of them work other jobs and pastor their churches around busy work schedules. They are an incredibly dedicated group of people and we are so blessed by them!
Thank you, Beverly Dodson, who was and continues to be the driving force behind our robust CRE program. The program provides a vital ministry and our churches would not be as well served without them.
Thank you, all, for your good work, your dedication, your skill, and your heart. Well done, good and faithful servants!!
As ever in prayer,
Sue Westfall

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