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This paper seeks to promote the possibility of a long-term senior pastorate at Second Presbyterian Church by introducing a model of clergy care that is biblical, Reformed, and goes beyond clergy self-care to enlist the congregation as a partner in caring for the pastor. Second Church is a thriving congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It has enjoyed several pastorates of twenty years or more and wants that pattern to continue. Abbreviated pastorates harm congregations and pastors. Long-term pastorates are more likely to result when pastors are physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Traditional methods of clergy care, however—especially clergy self-care—have not been effective at maintaining clergy health.

Part One of this paper will describe relevant demographic features of Central Pennsylvania in general and Second Church in particular. Second Church’s informal theologies also will be reviewed along with the history of pastor/parish relationships at Second Church. This will be done in order to present a full picture of the ministry context.

Part Two presents theological and other resources often cited in addressing the relationship between pastor and congregation. The ecclesiologies of Calvin’s Institutes and the Book of Order will be examined along with examples of the pastor-parish relationship in the Bible. Insights gleaned from family systems theory also will be considered.

Based on these theological and psychological insights, Part Three will present a vivid description of what a healthy relationship between pastor and congregation can look like and how such a vision might be achieved. Implementation of this vision includes strategies of sharing, equipping, and covenanting that enlist the congregants in caring for their pastor. Specific methods for employing these strategies at Second Church—and evaluating outcomes—will be suggested, along with a timeline for introducing the initiative.

Content Reader: Archibald Hart, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Hart, Archibald

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Second Presbyterian Church (Carlisle, Pa.); Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Clergy; Psychology; Lay ministry


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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