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A Letter from the Associate Pastor to Presbytery

Caring for One Another
January 13, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I was hoping the New Year would be different, less tragedy, less pain, a lessening of severe challenges for many churches and pastors.  Perhaps you had the same hope.  Alas… this was not to be.  It was two days into January when I received the first of several calls regarding pastors or members of their families who were experiencing health or personal difficulties, dealing with the passing of a loved one or being caught in a downsizing and now having to retool for a different life and career.   We know these things happen.  As pastors, we deal with them all of the time in our congregations.   However, what are we to do, as pastors, when another pastor in the presbytery experiences such life changing challenges?

I have spent many hours visiting with pastors in crisis.  I have seen my share of emergency rooms. When visiting pastors, in the hospital I have felt the awkwardness of those pastors who are used to caring and praying for others but have a hard time “flipping the role” and being cared and prayed for.  Many on the Presbytery staff have “pitched in” to preach at the last minute when a pastor, due to illness, death, or some unknown crisis, has been unable to lead worship. The PEAL Team (Pastors Encouraging and Listening) have been instrumental in providing care in numerous situations.  Although these are steps in the right direction, I believe more can be done to care for one another.

As members of the Body of Christ, we are bound together in Christ.  We share in faith, in ministry and in common purpose, to further the work of God’s Kingdom in the world with the help of the Holy Spirit.  When one of us suffers, we all suffer.  When one of us rejoices, we are all to rejoice.  One dimension of being a covenant community is to care for each other in joy and sorrow.  How are we to live into this vision?  How can we better show care and support for one another in Pittsburgh Presbytery?

Here are a few suggestions.  When it becomes known that a pastor is having cancer treatments, is going into the hospital for surgery, has lost a parent or child, has contracted an extended illness, or on the other hand, has received news of a great joy, or moved into a neighboring church to begin a new ministry, please consider doing the following;

I’m sure you can think of other ways to show care, concern or support for one another. It is my hope that we live into this vision of care in the covenant community we call Pittsburgh Presbytery.

In Christ’s service,

The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, Associate Pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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