Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


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

June/July, 2010 

Volume 4, Issue 3


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



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 Learn more about PPCN 
and our 11th Annual Gathering




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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



Join Our Mailing List



Forward this issue to a Friend




Join these Judicatories

in Supporting PPCN: 


Board of Pensions

Central Florida Presbytery

Carlisle Presbytery

Cherokee Presbytery

Flint River Presbytery

Mission Presbytery

Presbytery of Chicago

Presbytery of Eastern Virginia

Presbytery of Lake Michigan

Presbytery of the Miami Valley

Presbytery of Northern Kansas

Presbytery of the Pacific

Presbytery of Yukon

Salem Presbytery

Sierra Mission Presbytery

Synod of South Atlantic



    Visit our website for details

on how to join. 



For more information on the care of clergy, go to the editor's blog at . Join the conversation on ways to care for clergy four to five days a week.



A perfect gift to recognize the excellent work of pastors  
 A CD designed to support pastors, featuring song writer david bailey
 Cost: $10
  Deep Well CD Front Cover


 To order call 1-800 524-2612
and ask for item OGA-08-099



Steve McCutchan

Healing Laughter


The theme of this issue of our newsletter is how congregations can use humor as an instrument of nurture. There is an interesting article on the benefits of laughter by the Reverend Laura Gentry on the Evangelical Lutheran website, . She has been introducing what is called laughter yoga. Your editor has been exploring the value of standup comedy since retirement. Most of us know the healing release of some really good laughter. What I would like to offer in this issue of the newsletter are some ways that the governing body, the congregation, and the clergy can avail themselves of the value of laughter for the health of the Body of Christ.After all, it's summer time, lighten up, it will be good for you and everyone you care about.




Congregational Roast


The leadership of a congregation can introduce the healing experience of laughter for the whole congregation. You have probably attended a roast for a departing staff person and enjoyed the shared laughter at such an event. Why reserve such a good experience only for a person who is leaving or retiring.

Plan an evening congregational dinner. Announce well in advance that the idea would be to "roast" the congregation, the preacher, educator, musician, church board, choir, youth group, etc. Anyone can contribute but it would be wise to specifically identify some of the well known humorists in the congregation to prepare some material. You might also ask certain groups, such as the youth group, to prepare a roast. Their perspective could be very enlightening.

The purpose would be to invite laughter to nurture the soul of the congregation and the individuals within it. Have a night in which we make fun of ourselves. You might even introduce a "Guess who" moment in which someone would act out some exaggerated characteristics of a member in the congregation and let the audience guess who they are portraying.

Of course one would need to build in some protections against the misuse of humor that could hurt but imagine the possibility of humor that can heal. Sometimes we can get too serious in the church and lose sight of the genuine fun of being together in community. Who do you suppose could come up with the best funny line about the pastor, the session, and the congregation as a whole? It would be a fun evening to see the results.  




A Presbytery Invitation to


 A Lunch of Humor


Presbyteries have been through some very difficult times in recent years. The debate over sexuality is the most visible issue that has divided us one from the other, but there are many other pressures as well.

We know that Jesus said one of our most effective witnesses to the world is to demonstrate how we love each other in a manner reflective of how Jesus has loved us. A paraphrase of Jesus words is that the world will know that we are Jesus' disciples if we love one another. If that is the criteria, how is it going within your presbytery?

Laughter and humor can be an effective antidote to some of the relational poison that has been affecting us.

A simple suggestion that any presbytery leader or member of presbytery could take would be to have a lunch of humor. Invite several clergy to have lunch together. Make sure that there is theological diversity among the group. It would probably be possible to ask some cooks in a specific congregation to prepare the meal. That would surely be a gracious act that most congregations could accomplish if the group was of reasonable size.

The agenda, which should be announced ahead of time, is that each participant should bring their best religious joke and a humorous story that they have experienced in their own ministry. The leader should have a set of his or her own, but the objective is to get as many as possible to contribute.

Food and laughter can be healing contributors to any community. If a presbytery were able to arrange several of these lunches across the presbytery, it would build better relationships that would help when the more difficult issues are discussed.

So that the whole presbytery can benefit from these events, you might collect the best joke and the best humorous story from each lunch to share at the next presbytery meeting.



Supporting Ministry/Leaders:

Coaching, Mentoring, and Spiritual Direction

October 25-28, 2010

11th Annual Meeting

San Francisco Seminary



Our conference this year is focused on helping presbyteries learn about practical models for supporting pastors in ways that strengthen their leadership capacities, deepen their spiritual life, and encourage accountability for effective ministries.


Our conference leaders include:


Marcia Myers - the Director of the Vocation Office of the GAC
          offices of the PC(USA)

Dr. Laurie Ferguson - the Director of the Auburn Coaching

          Institute, a consultant, and a PC(USA) minister

Joe Sandifer - the pastor to pastors in the Presbytery of Greater


Rev. Samuel Hamilton-Poore - D.Min. SFTS, Professor of

           Spiritual Direction


In addition to the plenary presentations, participants will have the opportunity to engage in conversations and attend workshops that will address specific strategies that presbyteries can develop to promote healthy church leaders for the challenges facing the PCUSA in the 21st century.

For more info, contact: Julie Johnson (806) 438-0886

              OR email

OR see the PPCN website:

Conference Brochure ______________________________________________ 


A Dog's Life

(A slightly satirical review)


I know that you have heard the saying that a dog is a man's best friend. I saw a news item the other day about a dog being abused. Most people would raise the question of how someone could do that to man's best friend? It got me to thinking whether sometimes congregations confuse dogs and pastors.

You know, someone on whom you can vent your frustrations, even kick around, and then just assume that they will come back around and lick your hand. 

I can understand why people get confused between dogs and preachers. They often want their preacher to perform tricks on command and then they toss them a bone as a treat. It is hard to live on nibbles and bits, but it is really done out of compassion for the pastor. Many wealthy members agree that if clergy ate real human food, it would probably be bad for their digestion. 

A clergy person feels a call from God, attends seminary, and prepares to be a spiritual leader. They are excited about being in a healing ministry. The problem is that when they get to the church, many in the congregation want them to heel at their command. 

Is it possible that when people complain about pastors they are barking up the wrong tree? People are learning that it is not good for a dog to be kept on too short a leash. Maybe they need to learn that about clergy as well. 




Have you ever considered the similarity between a school of dolphins and a Presbyterian congregation at worship. Scientists have discovered that dolphins can sleep with their eyes open. Need I say more.