Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
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