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

Happy New Year! The beginning of the year can bring hope and possibility. It is a grace from God to try again, afresh, and anew. I pray that each of you have a vision of improvement for your mind, body, and spirit. I pray that you find ways to connect to your community and make a difference with a focus on hope and justice. May we as a presbytery help fulfill Zachariah’s prayer for the child Jesus when he said, “Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.” Luke 1:78 – 79.

One of the gifts each presbytery minister has are funds for continuing education (con-ed). The minister uses these funds to enhance their working knowledge, feed their spirit, and nurture their ministry. For some ministers this means a class or a workshop. Each year I use a portion of my con-ed to meet with a consultant. I, along with a small group of presbytery executives are given personal help and inspired by ideas to lead our presbyteries into the future. I enjoy going to lectures by authors I’ve read as well. In 2018 I attended a lecture on the Trappist monk Thomas Merton presented by Richard Rohr.

Ministers take workshops on music, painting, or other ways to express their creative side. Sometimes churches cannot see the connection between how a minister uses their con-ed, and the work of the church. This is because sometimes the connection is indirect. An inspired minister is a better leader. A relaxed and de-stressed minister is a better leader. A minister who has their creative spirit opened through photography, may find new ways of understanding a text, or solving a problem.

I want to encourage all ministers to take advantage of their con-ed. Be it a biblical class, music workshop, writing seminar, or finger painting, do something that will stretch your soul or build upon the gifts you already have. Sessions and boards should make sure each minister is improving their craft. Quality leadership is one of the keys to a vital congregation, and ministry setting. I encourage all minsters to plan and schedule their con-ed for 2020.

Rev. Craig M. Howard


  • Posted January 8, 2020 10:40 am
    Eldon McKie

    A necessary and important reminder for pastors, and a good interpretive note to congregations. You describe the experience of many of us and the resulting outcomes in ministry. Thanks!

  • Posted January 9, 2020 11:55 am
    Joan Marshall

    Thanks, Craig. I know that sometimes people don’t appreciate the value of continuing education, but that time has usually paid dividends for me and the congregations I served.

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