‘Leading Theologically,’ a PC(USA) broadcast, explores the joys of serving a pastoral residency

December 13, 2022 by Mike Ferguson

Pastoral residencies — post-seminary experiences designed to enhance and broaden ministry capabilities of fledgling pastors — received a fond gaze back last week from some of the people who best know the programs, which are scattered around the country.

On his broadcast “Leading Theologically,” the Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty of the Presbyterian Foundation drew from the experience of two pastors who in recent years completed pastoral residencies and one who administers a residency program:

Watch their 43-minute conversation with Hinson-Hasty, senior director for Theological Education Funds Development for the PC(USA)’s Committee on Theological Education, by going here or here.

“It was helpful to be given permission to explore different areas of ministry without consequences,” Ryo said of her residency experience. “You could explore any aspect of ministry without committing to it. The congregation understood their role was to love those in resident ministry.”

The Rev. Christopher Henry

“The best thing about the residency is that the congregation loves being a church that hosts the residency,” Henry said. “They really embrace their identity as a teaching congregation.” For residents, “it’s the opportunity to be fully recognized as a pastor on the pastoral team. This is not an internship, and they are not students. It is a laboratory for them. There is space to experiment.”

“For us,” Henry added, “this is about sustainability of leadership for the PC(USA). We want to give gifted pastors the tools they need to have a sustainable longtime ministry that serves Christ and the church well.” A bonus: “It does provide a community of friendship and support long beyond those two years.”

A handful of PC(USA) churches offer pastoral residencies and are now or will soon begin considering those who will begin their residency in 2023. Among them: Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Myers Park Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh and Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas. “I’m just a huge fan of these residencies,” Hinson-Hasty told his three guests.

The Rev. Savannah Demuynck

“I think seminary prepares you for so many things,” Demuynck said. “But there are so many things about being a pastor nothing can prepare you for until you experience it.” A residency can offer “a time to fully experience the administrative side of being a pastor, doing so with a lot of support and a lot of grace.”

“I think residencies open doors to future calls that might not have been open to someone two years out of seminary without them,” Henry said. “I tell pastor nominating committees that the quality of your candidate’s experience matters more than the quantity of their experience.” Even as they’re completing their residency, residents are sometimes called to churches that had been seeking someone with up to 10 years’ experience. “If you’ve done the residency,” Henry said, “you’re probably ready for this.”

The Rev. Angela Ryo

At Hinson-Hasty’s request, Ryo offered this Advent blessing to viewers at the close of the broadcast: “May the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ go with you as you discern, listen and prepare your hearts for the Christ child. I pray you will really hear the voice of God calling you to be curious about others and about God, to be curious about ministry and the calling upon your life. Be blessed.”

The Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace and the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis, Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly (2022), will be Hinson-Hasty’s guests on Friday’s edition of “Leading Theologically.” The broadcast begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and can be viewed either then or later here or here.