An invitation to clerks of session and ruling elders serving on sessions during these unusual times:
Business as (un)Usual.
As your stated clerk and a ruling elder, I want to share some thoughts with you about these unusual times. In the past weeks, I have become increasingly aware of the exhaustion now being experienced by our pastoral leaders. And so, I ask:

Ruling elders, how are your pastors?
Sessions, what can you do to offer care,
support and respite to your pastors? 
Recently, the session of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church wondered about this, and then they reached out to their pastor, and asked questions like:
  1. As a part-time pastor, are you working roughly the same number of hours now as before? Has that changed? How?
  2. What parts of your job have been most impacted by the virus, and are you satisfied with what you and we are able to do with & for those parts?
  3. Are there ways our Deacons can assist you with pastoral care responsibilities? Are there ways our Session can help minister to our congregation? Would it be helpful to have a volunteer list to run errands for, make calls to, check in with members who are in need of care?
  4. Do you need time off? How can we support you in taking time off this summer? Are there ways we can plan worship so that you can have a Sunday off? Does your family have needs, financial, emotional, or physical that we can help you address?
  5. Is there anything we can do to provide additional support to you and to your family?
This simple contact, and offer of support and care, is one effective, direct way to care for your pastor, so that your pastor can continue to care for you. One of the foundational principles of our Presbyterian polity is our shared leadership: ruling elders and teaching elders are chosen and called to discern and guide congregations and strengthen and nurture the life and faith of our congregations. (F-3.0202) Ruling elders have an important… indeed foundational… responsibility to lead our congregations during such a time as this, including the offer of care to our leadership partners.
As a ruling elder, I urge your session to have a conversation. Talk about: How can we, as leaders in the church, support and encourage other pastoral leaders to engage in self-care? Develop a simple plan, and then open a dialogue with your pastors.
Here are some LINKS that may help you think about these conversations:
“The Coming Pastoral Crash,” by John Dobbs. 
Mental health resources for congregations and clergy.
Emotional & Spiritual Care Webinars
Deadline extended to August 15, 2020:
Congregational Development Fund Enables New Ministry, Organizational Partnerships
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Presbytery, through its Committee on Congregational Vitality and the Presbytery Leadership Team, delayed the May 1 deadline for applications for the annual Congregational Development Fund grants, understanding the focus of our congregations was on more immediate challenges. These grants will still be available in 2020, however. The new deadline is August 15, 2020. Please read the information below to re-familiarize yourself with this annual grant program.
Has your congregation been noticing a need in your community, kicking around a new ministry idea, or dreaming about partnering with a neighborhood organization—but a tight budget makes you set that vision aside? Perhaps the pandemic currently affecting us has shone a light on a new, long-term ministry opportunity in your area. If that’s true, then consider applying for a Congregational Development Grant from the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.
Entering its fourth year of grants, the PTCA’s Congregational Grant Fund (sometimes known as Bucket #1) has already given out nearly $300,000 in grants funds to 21 PTCA congregations. This year, proceeds from this endowment fund will allow for up to $100,000 in grants for ministry initiatives at the congregational level. Applications are now due August 15, 2020, with awards to be announced in late October.
Successful applications will build on the current gifts, abilities, passions and callings of congregations by enabling innovative new or expanded ministries. Individual grants will be awarded for up to $20,000 each. Last year’s grant award winners included plans to implement a permaculture design on the grounds of Church of All Nations, converting it into an ecological sanctuary… adding a youth music ministry program for Anuak refugees through the Foundation of Life New Worshipping Community… sanctuary technology improvements at New Life Presbyterian Church to enable new worship and education offering. (And that was before the pandemic and the emergency grants for technology!) In previous years, Congregational Development grants have funded new community service projects, partnerships with neighborhood non-profits, congregational revitalization initiatives, and building alterations needed to allow a bold new ministry partnership to begin.
To download the application, click HERE:
The Committee on Congregational Vitality will again oversee the grant process. Questions can be addressed to one of the grant review team co-chairs, Rev. Karen Larson ( or Rev. Scott Larson (, or to Executive Presbyter Jeff Japinga (
This year, given all that has transpired, may not be the right time to move forward with a bold new initiative. Or it may be exactly the right time. Either way, the Congregational Development Fund will be here this year, and in the future, for this purpose.
Land Belonging to Church Now a Habitat for Humanity Site:
Successful Completion of Land Sale at Shepherd of the Hill
by the Rev. Dan Seal, Shepherd of the Hill Church
Shepherd of the Hill in Chaska completed a sale of excess land to Habitat for Humanity last week. The church sits on a large piece of property acquired 49 years ago. The approximately 10- acre property takes 3 hours to mow!
Habitat for Humanity put out the word to churches in eastern Carver County that they were interested in any land churches were not using. On the Shepherd site, HFH envisions a cul de sac containing 4 townhouses (duplexes with separate mortgages), for a total of 8 housing units. The property was zoned for residential use. The connection to Habitat and its mission of building affordable housing dovetailed neatly with the #1 mission of our congregation, which is to help homeless families and advocate for affordable housing.
The process of negotiating the terms and getting permission from the city and the state took 3 years and 11 months. The sale was structured to pay off the mortgage first, and then pay the balance in cash. The mortgage was held by the Presbyterian Church USA, so they helped to make the paperwork go smoothly. This makes our financial picture much less daunting for the foreseeable future! 
Habitat now owns that property and will break ground this week. Houses will be built by teams of volunteers, which will be working under protocols which respect the safety measures required for safe work. The building of the houses happens one house at a time, and the speed by which it is built depends on their ability to recruit volunteers. Shepherd will help in that effort but is not responsible for it. 
For more information from Habitat for Humanity, contact Chad Dipman, Project Systems Supervisor, at 612-209-3754.
Is Peace Presbyterian Church Going to the Dogs?
Dogs Discuss Life with the Coronavirus
Three dogs from the community of Peace Presbyterian Church, caught with their owners in the midst of this pandemic, begin writing each other to talk about their experiences.

Panda, a sheepdog and a therapy dog who is owned by two members of the church who are family doctors, carries on a conversation with Zest, a black lab and assistance dog for the Pastor's husband, and Merlin, a bichon mix owned by the Clerk of Session of the church.

If only humans could express themselves this well.
Jeff's Jottings:
Connected, for this Season and Beyond
After inventing a word (coronastitutional) and exaggerating, but only slightly, the number of Zoom calls he experiences in a week (3,265), Jeff gives thanks for connectedness.

As we struggle to be in the place where we are in this moment and as we anticipate the conversations about sheltering vs. opening, Jeff calls us to "bear witness to the unity, reconciliation, and justice for all people, to which we are called in Christ."
What does Matthew 25 mean to your church in the context of the COVID-19 ?
Record Your Matthew 25 Story
In these unprecedented times, it has never been more important to stay connected with our siblings in Christ. Matthew 25 calls us to act boldly and compassionately, and by committing to Matthew 25, you are making our church stronger.

We want to hear from you about how Matthew 25 is impacting your ministry to your community. 

We are creating a video consisting of your voices, your photos and your stories. Share with us how Matthew 25 is giving you hope in this challenging time.

Record a short (30-second max) video and send it to us. It doesn’t have to be professional, it is more important that it is from your heart than from a script. A smartphone will work fine, just film horizontally and stay within about 5 feet of your recording device. If sending a video is not possible, you can upload a photo representing your ministry and provide a written quote. Your submission is needed by May 30.

Use the link below to upload the files to .
A Video Greeting from the C0-Moderators
COVID-19 Resources Abound for
Worship, Pastoral & Governance
Stewardship & Financial
Government & Legal

EMerge is a newsletter of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. Through most of the year it is published biweekly and distributed to congregations, teaching elders, ruling elders, church members, committees and friends of the presbytery. Please send submissions and address corrections to