SPE Project Update - January 2011

Lis Van Harten

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

December 2010 marked the end of the eighth year of the SPE project.  At the time of writing, 71% of all CRC pastors and ministry associates (representing 58% of all CRC churches) had been in an SPE peer learning (PL) group. To date 169 PL grants have been awarded to 131 groups. Even after eight years, interest is still very strong. In November, over 60 non-participating pastors attended an SPE meeting to learn about peer groups.  What do participating pastors think about PL groups? “Peer groups are critical for pastors.” “We are better pastors because of what this grant has allowed us to do.”

Sixteen couples attended the Pastor Couple Learning Event held in October. These opportunities for encouragement, refreshment, and continuing education are positively impacting the participants. “Blessing and refreshing those in church leadership blesses the church, the kingdom.”

Twelve percent of pastors’/ministry associates’ spouses have been in one of the 14 groups that have received a grant. The groups are filling a need. “We can’t say enough about the sense of community and decreased isolation that comes from meeting together. It’s been amazing.”

In June, Synod mandated the Board of Trustees (BOT) to explore options for continued funding for SPE —after Lilly Endowment funding ends in December 2011. At the September meeting, the BOT received a report on SPE. Deep appreciation for SPE was expressed by several members.