Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Transitional Leader

At our next Presbytery Gathering on August 23rd at First Edwardsville, we will be examining two commissioned pastors (CP). Commissioned pastors are formerly known as commissioned ruling elders-(CRE). Our presbytery currently has 14 commissioned pastors serving 13 congregations. The average size congregation being served by a commissioned pastor is 41. Often, the commissioned pastor is the only choice a congregation has for pastoral leadership. As the membership size of a congregation decreases, so does the capacity to afford called and installed pastors. Decreasing congregations are on the increase. The overall presbytery picture shows an increase in the number of congregations with 50 members or less.
The Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy has taken an aggressive and intelligent action to create the best commissioned pastors possible. Rev. Stephanie Knopf and Deborah Tracy have led the design of a two-year program to train ruling elders who want to become commissioned pastors. The program will include course work on bible, pastoral care, reformed traditions, and reformed theology. It will also include work as an intern. The program is designed for ruling elders who work at a job other than ministry. Therefore, the courses are available on weekends and online. At the end of the program, the ruling elder will be commissioned to a particular congregation or ministry, after examination by the presbytery. There are currently 11 ruling elders admitted to the commissioned pastors training program.
The two ruling elders coming before the presbytery, Alonzo Williams and Richard Hadley each have the M.Div. For a variety of reasons, they are not pursuing ordination in the traditional Minister of Word and Sacrament track. Alonzo serves as pastor of Beria in St. Louis, and Richard serves as a chaplain in Crystal City. They will be available in the sanctuary at noon to meet and greet people who want to learn more about their history and story. The actual examination will only focus on their statement of faith.
The goal of the meet and greet, and examination, is for the presbytery to get to know those commissioned pastors serving in ministry context that are unfamiliar or distant. It is a way for us to be a connectional church as we get to know all of those serving in the presbytery. I look forward to seeing you August 23rd as we continue to risk and experiment with ways to do ministry in the 21st Century.
Rev. Craig M. Howard


  • Posted August 14, 2018 5:03 pm
    Stephanie Knopf

    Great article. Thanks for setting up the CP for the gathering and arranging a time for folks to get to know Alonzo and Rick. Thanks also for the promotion to Rev. As you know, even though I could have been a Rev. I chose not to so I can serve smaller congregations. Hopefully no one will get their nose bent out of joint with the accidental use of Rev.

  • Posted August 14, 2018 5:16 pm
    John M. O'Connor

    I seem to be out of the loop but would like to be more involved. I served Carondelet-Markham P.C. for several years before they called a Full Time Ordained Pastor. I was involved in the 1st Lay Pastor Program at Giddings Lovejoy. In 2005 I was asked to serve St. Andrew PC until they could find a Full-Time Pastor. I remained through most of 2006. They called a Pastor but he served only 2 of a 3 year contract and St Andrew, once again, asked me back. I returned in 2008 and here in 2018 I’m still here. If the Presbytery could aid a small congregation like ours, I would appreciate it.
    John O’Connor, CRE (or CP?)

  • Posted August 14, 2018 6:04 pm
    Steven Schumacher

    As the PCUSA continues to move away from God’s word and move to a more socially accepted denomination, the Presbytery’s churches will continue to lose membership, as does the PCUSA nationally.

  • Posted August 15, 2018 7:44 am
    Jerie Claire Lukefahr

    I can’t begin to express how meaningful this training has been in my life. Although I do not have a charge currently in the presbytery of St. Augustine, where I live, I do pulpit supply and am so much better equipped to serve as a ruling elder in whatever circumstance. THANK YOU to Stephanie and the presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy for a life- changing experience- 2010-2013. Blessings to you all.

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