By Don and Susan Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
The Invitation at Christmas is to Believe Again. God’s word invites us to believe in a Deeper Hope that moves beyond the “wrappings” of Christmas around us. We proclaim a Hope that brings Good News, Joy and Compassion for all of God’s people. This Deeper Hope is made real in all of our Regions as we:
• Assist congregations and leaders in claiming their unique mission and ministry, and provide resources and support.
• Call, commission and ordain new pastors, and support and equip all pastors for their ministries.
• Revitalize existing congregations and plan for new congregations.
• Connect Regional Disciples to give witness to ministries of justice, hope and compassion.
• Provide camps, conferences and retreats where children and youth find hope and Christ’s love and a community of faith that embraces “everyone.”
• Make visible the care for all of God’s family through ministries of reconciliation and anti-racism.
• Call and equip passionate leaders for today’s church.
• Provide pastoral care for clergy and congregations.
So how are these being lived out here in the PSWR? Every year there are at least 8 -10 congregations engaged in the Search and Call process for selecting a new called pastor. Your gifts support your Regional staff to walk with these congregations through this important process, providing resources, guidance and information as decisions are made for future ministry.
The Regions Committee on Ministry works with over 50 potential candidates seeking ordination or commissioning to serve our Disciple congregations. This work includes providing resources guiding them through completion of 16 areas of ministry competency, Boundary Training, Anti-Racism training, Psychological Assessment and Disciple History and Polity. Your gifts support the ongoing development of pastors for congregations and a growing ministry.
In the past 10 years, the PSWR has been one of the leading Regions for new church growth. Currently the Regions New Church Development Committee works with over 25 congregations in the Under Care process. These are congregations that are either a new start or one that is seeking affiliation with us as Disciples. The NCD guides and directs these congregations as they grow to become Full Standing Disciple congregations.
The New Church Development Committee has a proposal to plant at least 4 new congregations by the year 2020 in keeping with our General Churches vision for starting 1000 new churches by that year. This means supporting a new church planter, providing resources for program and a place to meet. In addition, through our Regions Hatchery ministry, we are training and developing new leaders for innovative ministries to reach the next generation. Your gifts make possible the future of the church.
The PSWR’s youth ministry is on the rise! This past summer we had over 250 young people attending camps at Loch Leven. In addition we have added two new camps, one called Wee Camp for pre-school – kindergarten and a youth leadership camp for our growing Hispanic ministries.
This past summer our youth traveled to Puerto Rico and Mexico for mission and multi-cultural experiences. We also hosted a dozen youth from South Korea who were a part of a cultural exchange with our Region. Plans are underway for a group of our youth to travel to South Korea next summer, as well as other youth attending our General Assembly in July 2017 and providing leadership for VBS programs in two of our Hawaii congregations.
We now have a full time Associate Regional Minister for Youth and Young Adult Ministry whose leadership continues to grow and expand these important ministries. In addition to summer camps we also provide winter camps for both our Jr. High and Sr. High youth and a Spring retreat for our Young Adults. These ministries to our young people would not be possible without your prayers and support.
Your Region provides ongoing Anti-Racism training, supports the Green Chalice movement, provides resources for re-entry programs of persons released from incarceration, supports ministries that offer emergency shelter for the homeless, ministries that provide tutoring and other programs for at-risk youth, hot-meal ministries, and much, much more! All these are possible through your generosity of gifts in support of your Region’s ministry.
Your gifts also support opportunities for leadership training and continuing education events for both lay and clergy to strengthen our ministries. In partnership with our Units, who provide vital ministry on our behalf, your support helps these ministries thrive.
In this Region we look, in these days of Advent, to God’s people who believe and hope that through the Holy Spirit we too can see Salvation and become a light of hope to all people. As members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we can believe again that God is actively promising us a deeper hope for our congregations and region working together to be in covenant with each other.
We celebrate our many churches and diverse communities, all in one region believing again; hoping again together that the God who ushered in a Savior as a baby in a complex world can once again save God’s people.
Therefore, as the PSWR, let us covenant together, as a region to work together to be the kind of change that needs to happen for Jesus to again become known as the Savior of the world through the works and ministries of our Regional Church.
The Christmas Special Day Offering supports all of these and many other ministries of our Region. Your generous gifts make the difference in our covenantal, shared ministries in the Region. 100% of your gifts return to the PSWR. Received in most congregations on December 11 and 18.
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan
Co-Regional Ministers, PSWR