From the October 20, 2014 Heartland Connection: 

Books, Books, Books!

By Teaching Elder Heather Jepsen, First Presbyterian Church, Warrensburg, MO

        Books, books, books!  If you have ever been in a pastor’s study, I bet you noticed that they had plenty of books.  I have been in very few Pastors’ offices that have no books.  In fact, as a pastor when I contracted my move between churches the moving company said “We always estimate extra weight for you pastors because you have so many boxes of books!”

The Shared Mission Snapshot for the month of October is the Commission on Preparation for Ministry.  One of the things that we use our shared mission dollars for is book grants which we give to all of our students under care.  Similar to any college student, seminary students are often swamped with long reading lists and many books required to purchase.  The cost of books for each semester of education can often be upwards of $500.

Though we are not able to offer full grants for all books needed, the CPM of Heartland Presbytery does offer small grants each semester to at least cover part of the expenses of books for our students who are in seminary.  Seminary can be an expensive endeavor and every dollar counts.  Even these small gifts can make a big difference for our students.

Those who have given to support the work of CPM through our shared mission funds are making a real investment in the church of the future.  Not only do students use these funds to buy the books they need each semester, many students will carry those same books with them into their ministry settings.  Just think of it; some of the books in your pastor’s office may have been purchased through shared mission funds!  Those books may have even contributed inspiring materials for the sermon you heard on Sunday.  Thank you for supporting the mission and ministry of Heartland Presbytery.

Link to a bulletin insert of this article to share with your congregation.

From the October 13, 2014 Heartland Connection:

More on the work of the Commission on Preparation for Ministry

By Teaching Elder Heather Jepsen,  First Presbyterian Church, Warrensburg, MO

Did you know that almost every pastor has to undergo a Psychological Evaluation before they are ordained?  It’s true!  I bet you had a pastor at some time in your life that you thought needed to see a “shrink”.  Well, at some point prior to ministry, they actually did.

The Commission on Preparation for Ministry is the focus of the Shared Mission Snapshots for the month of October.  One of the things that your shared mission dollars support is helping to pay for the Psychological Evaluations of the students that are under care of this Presbytery.

As students prepare for ministry, it is important that any underlying psychological issues be addressed.  This step is usually done early in the process of ordination, so that students have adequate time to address concerns as needed.  Each candidate for ministry must have an evaluation done with a licensed psychiatrist.  These evaluations include testing, verbal discussion, and an examination of overall mental health.  Similar to other medical processes, the psychological evaluation can be an expensive endeavor.

As those who have gone through the process know, the road through seminary and ordination can be a grueling and intense one.  It is helpful to know where we are coming from mentally and emotionally as we prepare to serve the world as spiritual leaders.  At Heartland Presbytery, we would hate for this important requirement for ordination to be a financial burden or even barrier for our students under care.  That is why we are so grateful for your shared mission dollars that go to support this as well as the other financial needs of our program.  Thank you.            

Link to a Bulletin Insert of this article to share with your congregation.  

Shared in the October 6, 2014 Heartland Connection 

                      What is the Commission on Preparation for Ministry?                                   By Teaching Elder Heather Jepsen, First Presbyterian Church, Warrensburg, MO

One of the many groups whose work is supported by the Presbytery’s shared mission dollars is the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (CPM).  The work of the CPM is to help those who are interested in serving as Teaching Elders (Pastors) in the PCUSA.  As you may know, the path to ordained ministry can be a complicated and confusing one.  This committee is here to help guide those who feel God’s call through this path to ordination.  We use the shared mission funds in several ways on this journey.

The most obvious thing we do is help students with scholarships.  In order to be an ordained Teaching Elder, candidates are required to have a Masters of Divinity degree.  To obtain this degree, students spend 3-4 years attending seminary.  This can be an expensive endeavor.  Not only is there the cost of tuition to consider, upwards of $10,000 a year, there is also the cost of food and housing.  At some seminaries, the cost of housing can be even greater than the cost of the education.  Attending seminary is not cheap, and many students leave school and begin their ministry work with large student loan debts.

While we do not have the financial ability to offer large grants to our students under care, we do offer small scholarships to help with the cost of attending seminary.  Anyone who has ever lived on a student’s budget knows that even an extra $1,000 a semester can make a big difference.  I heard from someone just this week whose spouse had lost a job.  This student is looking at living their senior year of seminary with half of the income they had in previous years.  Even though we can’t give a lot to this student, the small amount of support we do offer makes a big difference!  Thank you.

Link to a Bulletin Insert of this article to share with your congregation.