SPE Project Update - January 2010

Lis Van Harten

(First appeared in the January 2010 issue of Ministry Reports to Classes and Councils.)

December 2009 marked the end of the seventh year of the SPE project. Current programming provides grants for Pastors (PL) and Pastors’ Spouses’ (PS) peer groups. In addition to the grants, regional Pastor Couple (pastor and his/her spouse) Learning Events are held.

At the time of writing, 67% of all CRC pastors and ministry associates had been in an SPE PL group. These pastors represent 53% of all CRC churches. There have been 153 PL grants awarded to 118 groups. What is exciting is that even after seven years of PL grants, interest is still very strong. Sixty-four percent of pastors named in the proposals received for the late 2009 deadline were new to SPE PL groups. What do pastors think about PL groups? “I have been convinced that meeting together in this format will be an essential component in sustaining my ministry.”

Thirty-five couples attended the two Pastor Couple Learning Events held in 2009. These opportunities for encouragement, refreshment, and continuing education are positively impacting the participants. “I felt very appreciated by the CRC/SPE. Thanks for the gift.”

Eleven percent of pastors’/ministry associates’ spouses have been in one of the 12 groups that have received a grant. The groups are filling a need. “We have concerns and frustrations that are unique to ministry spouses and families. We have very few opportunities to be open and real.”

With only two years of Lilly Endowment Inc. funding remaining, sustainability plans for SPE programming are in the works.