BALTIMORE (OGA) — The Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) believe it’s time to take a deep dive into training commissioned pastors. Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann have announced a new training conference to be held next spring.

The Reverend Cindy Kohlmann, Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the PC(USA) speaks at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering in Baltimore. Photo by Rick Jones.

The “Empowering Commissioned Pastors’ Conference” will be held May 13–16, 2020, in Richardson, Texas, and will be sponsored by the Commissioned Pastors’ Network of the Synod of the Sun. Kohlmann announced the conference during a presentation at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering in Baltimore.

“I’m wondering if it’s time or even past time for us to do a deep dive and take a hard look to compare the things we value in the preparation process for ordained ministers against the things that are needed in the 21st century for churches that want to be faithful but aren’t finding the pastors,” she said. “Is it time to bring people together from seminaries, mid councils, and churches to talk about what ministry needs to look like and preparation for ministry? Is it time to talk about preparing people for part-time vocational ministry?”

Kohlmann says part-time pastors face the stress of time and service while holding down other jobs, leaving little time to prepare a sermon and be present for their congregations.

“Is it time or past time for us to unravel tradition and history and begin to create a new Vision 2020 for pastoral leadership?” she asked. “One of the ways we are doing that together is through commissioning ruling elders. We have amazing pastors who are growing congregations that we thought were ready to be closed. Maybe we need to do a deep dive around that as well.”

Kohlmann is hoping the conference will find the same professional and financial support of other national conferences such as the Mid Council Leaders Gathering.

“It will be a rich, rich time, focusing on empowering the people we are trusting with the heart of our denomination because the heart of our denomination is small churches who are loving their neighbors,” she said. “Let’s empower and equip the people who are empowering and equipping those congregations.”