Yes that’s right – this is me in front of the Presbyterian version of Mecca: The Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. For those of you who aren’t Presbyterian, this is our headquarters. I was there for a weekend retreat of The Company of New Pastors (CNP) program for the denomination. Each Presbyterian seminary (and Fuller) has a CNP group of around 10 students who spend the year with faculty mentors (ours are Dean Nancy Gross and Dean Darrell Guder) and go through the ordination questions that we will all be asked when we get ordained. After graduating and finding our first call (job), we’ll be placed into regional groups of other pastors to provide for a sense of accountability and the chance to reflect on ministry with a small cohort of other pastors, with pastor mentors. It’s an interesting program and I’m not entirely sure what I think about it.
I hadn’t heard great things about the annual CNP conference (funded by Lilly – so we all got wined & dined). Many have wondered what the point was to bring everyone together. I felt some of that this year as well; there wasn’t a clear understanding of what the point of the weekend was. If it was to spend time with our own seminary groups, we could have just done that together somewhere closer to each of our seminaries. If the point was to get to know people from other seminaries, they need to be more pro-active about creating opportunities to get students from other seminaries to interact with others. It was difficult this year, because there have been some changes in the leadership, and Quinn Fox, the new Director of Company of New Pastors, worked his very first day on the first day of the conference – so he was learning the ropes right along us. I’m impressed with Quinn and his previous ministry experience and I’m sure he’ll do a great job with the Company of New Pastors, and hopefully will work on the annual conference for the future.
It was fun to get to know our group from Princeton better last weekend, and we did have a good last evening interacting with others from different schools. It just seems that our time could have been used more effectively during the weekend.