Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


Providing professional development, support, and resources for those caring for ministers throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA)

April, 2009 


 Nurturing the health of the Body of Christ through caring for its pastors.


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    Visit our website for details
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 PPCN Officers:

President: Dan Corll
Vice President: Julie Johnson

Palo Duro
Secretary: Carol Allen
Treasurer: Alan Baroody
Editor: Stephen McCutchan


Members At Large:

Christine Sage, Pacific
Joe Sandifer, Greater Atlanta
Lou Snead, Mission
Ken Waddell, Cherokee

     Denominational Advisors:

 Marcia Meyers,
PCUSA Office of Vocation
Helen Locklear
Board of Pensions









Caring Enough to Offend 

     "When lonely pain becomes shared pain, healing begins," said the CPE Supervisor.  This is true in CPE, but not in the parish.  REV found that, "When lonely pain becomes shared pain from the personable pastor, offense begins!"  Many people in that small Katrinaville, LA parish encouraged REV to be her real self -- warts and all.  Some thought she was their best friend, and had found, in their own special relationship, a safe place to give and receive healing for their inner-most pain.  REV had counseled, baptized, confirmed, married and buried her flock.  She discovered, after 7 trusting years, that a nagging minority claimed they were offended by REV.  Why?  Lots of unspoken reasons, like the fact that REV didn't always wear a dress -- and there was that time when two church ladies sitting right behind her, swore she farted at the quilters club.  She was seen sipping a martini at her best friend's birthday party in a nearby town, and some wondered if she was, therefore, an alcoholic.   "REV is a real nice lady, and everyone knows she believes she is called to be a minister.  But, she offends people, especially during Stewardship Season.  The chemistry just isn't good."

     The naysayers led a movement among disgruntled former members to file complaints about her to the Presbytery Executive, as Ms. Wise snipped, "If they care about our church, they'll fire her, immediately, and get us someone more like us!"   Had REV found herself in the crux of a caring offense?  How could the EP reply to Ms. Wise and her followers?  What would come of that small Katrinaville Church?  For the answer to these and other questions, tune in next time for more about REV.

     REV and the Katrinaville church had discovered one of the ironic truths of caring ministry.  Offense is intrinsic to effective pastoral ministry.   Relentlessly, the preacher brings the message of an offending Gospel which challenges our imperfections and demands uncomfortable change.  Yet, the pastoral relationship depends on parishioners who keep returning for more challenge and with an expectation that those same offended people will provide funds to generously compensate the offending pastor and the congregation's mission.  As the institutional church experiences systemic decline, it is faced with many fears.  Systemic fear leads to things like avoidance of conflict, for fear of risking more with-holding of funds, as an expression of being offending.   (How have you as a pastor, congregation or presbytery found effective ways to navigate through conflicted pastoral relationships?  Send us your experiences with your permission to share what you've learned through the lens of REV.)

(Submitted by Rev. Eve Virtue)

Buddah ain't heavy, He's my brother!
Steve McCutchan's recent blog, "The Rising Weight of Clergy"
Reported that Presbyterians Today (3/09) had a startling study of the changing weight of pastors. In the past 17 years, the average weight of pastors increased and that the share of pastors who are obese has doubled in that time period.  There is evidence that this tendency towards obesity affects mental health. Is it possible that it also affects their spiritual health and their capacity to engage in effective ministry?

      I realize that there is a built in prejudice against heavy people. There is no physical description of Jesus in the Scriptures. The images we have are developed out of our imagination. Still, have you ever seen an image of a fat Jesus or even a heavy set Jesus. This, of course, is in contrast to the Asian image of a fat Buddah.

     There is good reason to examine our prejudice regarding weight, but we also need to recognize the health costs, both mentally and physically, to inappropriate weight. And we should ask what this increase in weight among our clergy is saying about the stress and challenges of ministry.  On the positive side, the same report found that 21 percent of Presbyterian clergy are in formal weight-loss programs and 39 percent belong to fitness centers.  The full survey may be found at

     Is there a struggle within your own spirit between Buddah and Jesus?  If so, you are encouraged to make the most of this season and get outside and exercise, as a spiritual discipline!  Better yet, find a faith partner and create or strengthen a relationship with a sister who, like you, will appreciate the healthy accountability and support!


PPCN at the Big Tent
June 11-13, 2009, Hyatt Regency Downtown, Atlanta, Georgia
"and the Word Became Flesh ..."
or call 1-888-728-7228, ext. 2417)

Register online at the above address.  Select the Pre-Conference event "Presbytery Pastoral Care Network Gathering" under Healthy Ministries Division. Make your reservation, which includes lunch ($50.00).   In addition to this 9 am - 4 pm Pre-Conference PPCN Gathering, there will also be four Workshops during the Big Tent Conference related to PPCN Topics:

Healthy Ministry Conference .. at the Big Tent
Workshops to be presented by PPCN Board Members:

"Healthy Pastors:  How to Sustain Them"
   Fri. 10:30 - Stephen McCutchan and Carol Allen
"Nurturing New Pastors/First Call"
   Fri. 3:30 - Joe Sandifer
"Pastors Need a Pastor Too"
   Fri. 7:00 pm  - Joe Sandifer
"Dissolutions and Intervening When Necessary"
   Sat. 1:30 pm - Alan Baroody and Lou Snead

Each of these is a resource for the work of COMs in sustaining healthy pastors.

 Print & Copy "Big Tent" Brochures for your Presbytery:




Employment Assistance Program
Board of Pensions

by Helen Locklear 

      The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is concerned with the well-being of pastors who serve the church. We know that spiritual, physical and financial issues can directly and indirectly affect a person's holistic health. To help Plan Members improve their well-being, the Board offers Stewardship of Self initiatives that promote leading healthy lives.  For the next couple of PPCN Newsletters a different program of the Stewardship of Self initiative will be featured.   
     Employment Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, confidential resource that helps active members and their dependents find answers to a variety of personal concerns.  It offers consultation, support, and personalized assistance, as well as referrals to licensed counselors and professional resources in your community.

     Counseling: Up to six free private counseling sessions (per issue) with a licensed Counselor provided for you and members of yours household

     Financial Resources (NEW): Certified financial planners, certified tax preparers, enrolled agents, CPAs, and professionals from the banking and insurance industries provide telephonic coaching and advisement about budgeting, credit, investing, tax preparation, and more.

     Legal Assistance: Free 39-minue telephonic or face-to-face consultation with an attorney on legal matters, or 60-minute consultation with a fraud resolution specialist on identity theft issues.

     Child Care: Resources and referrals to pre-screened childcare providers, before and after school programs, camps, adoption organizations, and information on parenting and prenatal care.

     Elder Care: Resources and referrals to prescreened home health agencies, assisted living facilities, social and recreational programs, and long-distance care giving.

     Pet Care: Resources and referrals for pet sitting, obedience training, veterinarians, and more.

     Healthy Rewards: Access to discounted network of specialty health providers and discounts on products and services, and to information about a variety of topics, including message therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, vision and hearing care, vitamin and herbal supplements, and more.

The Employee Assistance Program is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-866-640-2772. 
            -  Go to
            -  Click on "Login to access your benefits" in the
                              upper left-hand menu.
            -  Scroll down to "Employee ID" on the left
            -  Enter Employer ID:  pscua (in lowercase letters
                              with no spaces)
            -  Click "Go."
** Not available to individuals on Medicare Supplement
More information about the Board of Pensions is available at


Welcome Newest Members and Renewals!


Thanks to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Carlisle Presbyteries for your recent Institutional Memberships!!!


PPCN individual membership: $45 minimum donation

PPCN institutional membership: $250 minimum donation