Fun

Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader
choward@glpby.org

Q: What is the chief end of (humanity)?
A: (Humanity’s) chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy (God) forever.
Westminster Shorter Catechism

. . . For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

After graduating seminary, my first call was as an associate to a small Pentecostal new church development (300 members) on a rough side of town in Chicago. It was a difficult context and a difficult call for me. I had not been exposed to a community of drugs, violence, and crime since my youth in the projects. But this is where God chose to plant a church, and where I learned to connect with the most vulnerable in our society. Each week the pastor, Dr. Leon Finney, would meet with the staff, and in the midst of heart wrenching ministry, Dr. Finney taught us to have fun. He helped us to see the lighter side of life and ministry. We would share hilarious stories of growing up, get a laugh at lyrics from songs and aphorisms our parents taught us. Dr. Finney taught us that no matter how difficult life is, there is always space for joy.

I was reminded of this while in worship Sunday at First Belleville. During the children’s sermon, pastor Rob Dyer dressed as Disco Bob! It was hilarious! And it worked. The children were engaged, answered questions about how to care for one another, and had a great time in the process.

When do you find joy in your work and ministry? Do you make time to have fun?

What does it mean to be a presbytery of vibrant congregations and dynamic leaders that have fun in fellowship, and joy in ministry? In what ways do we give permission to our members to enjoy worship, music, ministry, and service? In what ways do we demonstrate such joy?

I have an idea. How about sending us pictures of fun and joy in ministry? I would like to create a collage in next week’s newsletter of Presbyterians having fun! Just attach the photo to an email and send it to communication@glpby.org and how about telling us some ways you break the standard routine of meetings, worship, and other ministry context to inject a bit of fun.  I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing from you!

Rev. Craig M. Howard

 

Listening

Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader
choward@glpby.org


It’s time I doubled back and shared more material from our August Presbytery Gathering at Edwardsville, First. After each Presbytery Gathering we send out a survey to determine what went well and what did not. The surveys are reviewed by the Presbytery Gathering Planning Team. Our last gathering from September returned a record number of responses. Thank you! Many of you requested we provide the documents from the pre-sessions.

The theme of the gathering was Missional Church. In addition to our presenter Dr. Bonnie Sue Lewis from Dubuque Seminary, we had two pre-sessions. In one pre-session we focused on the work of the personnel committee in our congregations. It was led by Laura Arnold. She shared material that would be helpful for all personnel committees. These materials can be found here. The other pre-session involved an exploration of the surrounding communities of Edwardsville. Members went into the neighborhood, visiting stores and shops, speaking with neighbors, and observing the life of the community. The documents used to perform our community exegesis can be found here

There were so many good ideas on this survey. You encourage us to continue tweaking the order of day’s events. You want us to bring in the best speakers on the specific topic, yet don’t forget our local talented leaders. You desire us to be considerate of your time, while making sure there is time for us to get to know one another.

Thank you again for your input, suggestions, and critiques. We are listening! You are being heard! Together we will shape and craft our Presbytery Gatherings and our time together into a form that is beneficial to everyone.

Rev. Craig M. Howard

 

Laboring in God’s Vineyard

Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader
choward@glpby.org


When I became a Minister of Word and Sacrament, I was not ordained to a congregation. At the time I was working at McCormick as the Chief Development Officer. I really enjoyed fund raising, and I had spent my time since graduating seminary doing pastoral work, and institutional ministry.

Instead of being ordained to congregational ministry, I was ordained to specialized ministry (or validated ministry) as a fundraiser for McCormick Seminary. To make matters more complicated, I was a member of the presbytery of Chicago while living in Madison Wisconsin! I commuted to Chicago from Madison (3 – 5 hours, depending upon the weather and traffic) and lived in Chicago during the week. Those were crazy times for Marilyn and me!

The Presbyterian church recognizes specialized ministries by validating different forms of ministries beyond the traditional congregation. In Giddings Lovejoy we have a diversity of validated ministries. We have chaplains serving in hospitals, senior living facilities, the Army, Seminary professors, an Executive Director of a food pantry, and a Regional Liaison in East Central Africa!

Our Teaching Elders serve as Pastors and Head of Staff, Associate Pastors, Parish Associates, Stated Supply, Interim and Transitional Pastors, and Designated Pastors. I can’t forget the 79 Honorably Retired ministers in our presbytery.

For many, the call to specialized ministry is a different calling than to that of a congregation. My vision for the church is a large tent where a diversity of people, congregations, and even religious traditions can dwell together. I enjoyed congregational ministry when I served as a pastor. I enjoy the work of validated ministry even more as I am able to serve a geographically larger and theologically and racially diverse population.

On this post Labor Day, I want to lift up those who labor in God’s vineyard. I spend 90% of my time with congregational issues. I find myself neglecting those in validated ministries, even though that is how I entered ordained ministry and how I serve. The next time you meet one of our chaplains, professors, executives, or others in validated ministry, let them know you appreciate all they do. I appreciate them as well.

Rev. Craig M. Howard