A very common memory shared by many congregations I have visited, especially throughout North Carolina, is “that time when students and professors came and led worship… it must have been twenty years ago!” That time that so many refer to was what we once called “Caravan”. Union students and faculty would load up and caravan to a region where they would then lead Sunday worship services at multiple churches.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many good things, “Caravan” eventually came to an end.
Five years ago, Union Presbyterian Seminary began a new initiative to connect congregations with the seminary by giving individuals the opportunity to attend lectures by our professors for a day and aptly name it “Seminary for a Day.”
Today, we alternate years and offer “Seminary for a Day” every other year and an even newer initiative “Union on the Move” in the off years.
The Presbytery of Eastern Virginia hosted our very first “Union on the Move” in October 2014 and this past weekend, The Presbytery of Coastal Carolina hosted “Union on the Move” in conjunction with their own “E3 Learning Fair: Educate, Equip, Empower”.
“Union on the Move” is very similar to “Caravan”- some of our students, faculty, and staff head to a specific region to lead workshops at a Saturday gathering and then assist in worship leadership at several congregations on Sunday morning.
“E3 Learning Fair” is a unique opportunity for members of The Presbytery of Coastal Carolina to gather together for a day of networking and learning. The presbytery provided a resource table for church leaders to borrow books from and “The Thoughtful Christian” set up a table where books could be purchased. Several committees and organizations within the presbytery set-up tables filled with prayer, media, and mediation resources. I along with Union faculty members Dr. Brian Blount, Dr. Sam Adams, Dr. John Carroll, Dr. Stan Hargraves, Dr. Ken McFayden, and Carson Rhyne (adjunct faculty and Presbytery of the James Executive Presbyter), and with other staff members and alums Rev. Thomas Agbemenou and Rev. Clay Macaulay joined the event to assist in leading workshops and connecting with individual congregational leaders.
The Presbytery of Coastal Carolina has done a lot of reshaping over the past year, placing a focus on strengthening the relationships between individual congregations. Presbytery meetings are now held as a whole only twice per year and the remaining meetings take place in “clusters”. I was able to attend two of the three cluster meetings in June and was amazed at how smoothly everything went and how easy it was to connect with other leaders. Coming from a very large presbytery myself, I understand that these meetings sometimes can be so busy that connections cannot occur easily. In this new setting, neighboring congregations are connecting on a deeper level and are able to join in ministry together in a new way. This “E3 Learning Fair” is another opportunity to deepen those relationships and provide important and transformational resources to the congregations. In many cases, individuals might be overwhelmed or not know where to look for certain resources and this provided them a venue to make contacts with those who can help in the search.
It was such a great joy to join with others from Union Presbyterian Seminary and with The Presbytery of Coastal Carolina this weekend. I was able to witness reunions between our alums and professors and between pastoral colleagues who might just be coming up for air following an eventful summer and “Rally Day”. No business meeting was held, but stories and resources were shared. We also delight in the fact that Union Presbyterian Seminary might now be more than just another name in the list of seminaries and is now a “go to” resource for several more congregational leaders.
How does your presbytery help provide educational resources for your congregational leaders?
What resources do you need most in your ministry today?
Rev. Jordan Davis