Greetings from Spokane, Washington! I am on study leave this week as I attend a conference for pastors at Whitworth University (my alma mater). Twice a year, I will take a week of study leave in order to learn, reflect, and grow as a pastor. My week will be used in two main ways:
Study: Each night I will hear from the keynote speaker, Mary Hulst, a chaplain and professor at Calvin College and the author of a preaching book. Dr. Hulst’s theme for the week is Old Testament Stories for Ministerial Challenges Today. Here are her topics for the week:
Monday: “Elijah – Restoration in Weariness”
Tuesday: “Esther – Seeing God in not so Obvious Circumstances”
Wednesday: “Aaron and his Sons – Danger of Doing Things ‘Our Way'”
Thursday: “Moses – Frustration with our Followers”
Friday: “Shiprah and Puah – Obedience leads to Faithfulness and Fruitfulness”
Every afternoon I will attend a “Ministry Track.” These are workshops that help equip pastors to do our jobs better. The track that I have chosen is Preaching and Teaching Scripture: This biblical preaching track will focus on the intersection of the pastor-preacher’s personal spiritual formation with the responsibility to communicate the biblical message with clarity, passion and conviction. Workshops will equip preachers with fresh tools as they begin to plan for the coming year of sermons.
I’m a bit of a nerd, and I am VERY much looking forward to exploring these topics. I am thankful that the PCUSA denomination emphasizes pastoral education, and that Unity allows me the time and space to attend conferences like this, so that I can pass on what I learn to you!
Prayer: A good portion of my mornings will be carved out for prayer and reflection. If you’d like, you can join me in prayer this week. I plan to pray for three particular areas of Unity Presbyterian Church.
1) I pray for our new members and their process of becoming a part of our church family. We have many new faces in our congregation this summer, and I am excited to get to know our new members and regular visitors. I pray that we can be a welcoming church, where members and visitors can grow in their knowledge and love of God.
2) I pray for our current members, and any needs–both known and unknown–that are occurring in their lives.
3) I pray for this upcoming fall, and that God may continue to bless the work of Unity’s congregation as we share God’s love with the Denver community.
I’ll leave you with some words from the Psalmist about learning from God:
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
May we all be lifelong learners about our wonderful God and our faith in Him.
My conference is over on Friday, so I’ll see you on Sunday!