The Presbyterian Church has some funny terms. From time-to-time I am still learning new ones. When I came to First Pres Glen Ellyn 7 years ago, I learned what a “Sacristy” is – although I still think it would be easier to call it “that little closet where all the worship supplies are stored.”
The term “Parish Associate” is used to refer to an ordained PC(USA) pastor who is a participant in a congregation, but not serving in an Installed Pastoral role. These folks have been through all the education and training that your pastors have and many of them have served congregations in pastoral roles during previous seasons of life. They have been ordained to the ministry of Teaching Elder (our official Presbyterian term for pastor) but now work outside the church in other fields.
Our congregation is blessed to have a number of “Parish Associates” as a part of our community. With the bulk of their time, they are professors and counselors, religious literature editors and retirees. These folks continue to exercise their gifts in congregational ministry through an official relationship with the session wherein they serve this congregation through education, preaching, pastoral visitation and other invitations extended to them.
This past Sunday in worship we were blessed to hear from one of our congregation’s Parish Associates, the Rev. Dr. Jennifer McNutt. Jennifer’s day job is teaching Christian History and Theology as an Associate Professor at Wheaton College. On Sunday, Jennifer taught us about Jesus’ ministry with women in Luke 8. If you missed the sermon on Sunday, I’d encourage you to listen to it here.
Jesus was an absolute trailblazer in his inclusion of women in his ministry and the Bible, as Jennifer so clearly demonstrated, would have been scandalous in its day for the prominent role of women in leadership, virtue and key contributions.
First Pres is a community that is likewise committed to encouraging and nurturing women in leadership and ministry. Even in this time of pastoral transition while we are without a female pastor on our staff, it is important for us to continue to have a female voice in the pulpit and female leadership contributing in the church at every level. When we follow Jesus’ example in this regard, we better reflect God’s intention for the church, and we are richer for the contributions of all in the church.
Like you, I am deeply grateful and abundantly blessed by the ministry of women at First Pres who serve as Elders, Deacons, Parish Associates, volunteer leaders, and staff members.
So “Thank You” to Jennifer and to all the women of our community whom God works in and through to build the Kingdom of God in this place!