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Vancouver School of Theology Receives Grant
  By Ian Sheh, Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver, B.C.
The Vancouver School of Theology has received a grant of $1 million (USD) from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help advance its work in theological field education.
The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for To- morrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face in preparing pastoral leaders for Christian congregations, both now and into the future.
Theological Field Education (TFE) at VST has, for many years, been a mutual experience in which students, mentors in various areas of practice, and the school’s faculty have estab- lished a teaching and learning net- work. TFE has a central place in the school’s core mission to “prepare thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders,” in conversation with other faith traditions and the In- digenous church.
“The Vancouver School of Theol- ogy is thrilled at this grant,” said the Rev. Dr. Richard Topping, VST President. “It will make possible the development and implementation of a stellar program of theological field
education through a network of expe- rienced practitioners that will prepare and inspire students for ministry in our time.”
This funding will enable VST to develop further its teaching, men- toring and learning practices so that they are even more responsive to the challenges of ministry. It will work closely with its denominational part- ners, leading churches and effective clergy mentors to deliver TFE experi- ences that shape students for faithful and relevant ministry.
The Vancouver School of Theol- ogy is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving collectively a total of more than $82 million in grants
The Vancouver School of Theology.
through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, main- line Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Black church and historic peace church tra- ditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren,
Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chi- nese American and recent immigrant Christian communities.
To learn more about the Vancouver School of Theology, visit
  Shepherding Elders: A New/Old Model of Care
 By the Rev. Cherie Inksetter,
St. Giles Presbyterian Church in St. Catharines, Ont.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varie- ties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone” (1 Corinthi- ans 12:4–6).
In a recent Facebook post, I shared the exciting news that we at St. Giles Presbyterian Church in St. Catharines had ordained five new Shepherding Elders. Some friends expressed that they had not heard of this, so we thought it would be great to share this “new/old model” with the wider church.
Here at St. Giles, we have two groups of elders: Session or Admin- istrative Elders, who gather once a month to oversee the business of the church, and Shepherding El- ders, who act as the caregivers for the congregation and the conduit for communication within the church. We have 12 each of Administrative and Shepherding Elders as leaders in our church. This replaces the model where Session elders are given dis- tricts to oversee, while sitting on Ses-
sion and on Teams within the church. In 2013, we had some visioning time and identified that everyone is gifted by God in different ways. Some elders love being on teams and offering leadership to the church on Session, but weren’t necessarily gifted with pastoral leanings. In the past, carrying both responsibilities had become burdensome and some leaders were feeling guilty about ne- glecting their districts. On the other hand, some elders loved to visit and connect with people and were gifted at caring for others, but didn’t nec- essarily want to attend meetings or be involved in decision making at the Session level. So it seemed only nat- ural to embrace our God-given gifts and have two types of elders to better
care for our family of faith.
At that time, the current group of
elders self-identified where their in- terests lay, and those who felt called to this Shepherding Role were the seed group that launched this won- derful ministry. Since then, we have called elders to both roles and, as we have Term eldership for both, we have seen amazing people step into each ministry role.
So, what does a Shepherding Elder do? They have several responsibili-
ties, including:
• visiting members and adherents
as ambassadors on behalf of the
• being a caring presence for
those who are struggling;
• being of help to the people in their districts in a variety of
• maintaining lines of communi-
cation with the people in their
• developing relationships that
will benefit the people and the
• ensuring information is brought
from Session to members and adherents and communicate the district’s concerns back to Ses- sion;
• sharing concerns that should be brought to the attention of the minister, with permission from the members/adherents;
• following up with their districts at least once a year to determine if their needs have remained the same and to find out how we can be of service to them.
The methods of communication vary, and it is left up to the Shepherd- ing Elder and each member as to how they will be in contact, whether
From left to right : May Crawley, Joan Michon, Sue Reimer, Anne Larocque and Janet McLoughlin.
it is by phone, email, Facebook, texts or, if they wish, in person. Members are encouraged to look at James 5:13–14 as the model. “Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheer ful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them
pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.”
We have been greatly blessed by this ministry and feel our congrega- tion has been strengthened, as well.
If anyone wishes to have further information, I welcome you to be in touch with me by email to pastor
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