Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery Leader

The installation service of Rev. Alexandra (Alex) Lysdahl at First United, Bellville, was joyful, lighthearted, reverent, and delightful. When Rob Dyer, the head of staff, gave the charge to Alex, he began by using scripture in a humorous way. But his jovial mood became serious as he reflected on seeing Alex administer care to someone in the hospital. Rob observed the gentleness and loving spirit Alex demonstrated in the hospital room. He felt that if his mother were ill, he would want someone like Alex providing pastoral care.
Relationships are the lifeblood of a congregation. We build connections with one another over time. These connections, which are often generational, are one of the reasons we enjoy coming together in worship, teaching, and mission. Being present for one another during the difficult times of life is the core of what it means to be together. We need one another. This is even more true when we are hurt, afraid, or grieving. We need people who are trained to walk alongside us during times of grief, suffering, and loss. In the book All Our Losses All Our Griefs, Kenneth Mitchell and Herbert Anderson write, “Although grieving is by its very nature a lonely task, the resolution of grief requires the presence of other persons.”
At our next presbytery gathering on Thursday, February 7th at 1 p.m. at Southminster Presbyterian in Crestwood (note the change in location), training will be offered in pastoral care. The training is designed for deacons, but ruling elders, pastors, and other congregational leaders are invited to attend. Rev. Renita Mercado-Heinzl will lead the workshop. Renita serves as chaplain at St. Luke’s Episcopal Presbyterian Hospital. She brings a wealth of experience, gifts, and wisdom to this ministry.
There are many options for learning at this presbytery gathering. Although the workshop descriptions mention particular groups or congregation size, you are encouraged to self-select and attend the workshop that best fits the needs of your congregation. The intention is not to be constraining but to offer flexibility through choice. Please register, attend, and plan to listen and share as we learn together. The registration page can be found here.
Rev. Craig M. Howard

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