Peer Group Update

Lis Van Harten

(First appeared in the September 2011 issue of Ministry Reports to Classes and Councils.)

Recently, SPE awarded 17 pastor peer learning (PL) group grants and four pastors’ spouses’ (PS) peer group grants. Grants are a key piece of SPE programming.

To date, over 70% of all CRC pastors have participated in an SPE PL group. The groups are generally made up of four to eight pastors who commit to meeting together to explore an agreed upon topic. A considerable amount of group time is spent encouraging, supporting, and praying for one another. Both the caring and learning is significantly impacting the participants. “I am a healthier, stronger, and better leader because of this group.” “After 12 years [of ministry], I feel this group has made it possible for me to continue serving my congregation.”

PS groups are relatively new to SPE. The 27 grants awarded have involved 13% of CRC pastors’ spouses. The groups are patterned after the PL model but the focus is more on caring than learning. Participants have found the experience very valuable. “We can’t say enough about the sense of community and decreased isolation that comes from meeting together. It’s been amazing.” “In a real way, the members of this group have been able to reach out and touch a part of my heart that is being protected as a pastor’s wife. “

Since 2003, funding for SPE has come from a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. This funding will end in December 2011. The CRC will continue funding the best parts of SPE beginning in January 2012.