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State, Regional Ministries Partner for the Sake of the Shepherd’s Soul

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Great Lakes, The Way

By Kevin Spear

The last two years have caused us to experience shortages of various kinds. Unfortunately, there has been an abundance of anxiety and burnout, including among pastors. Despite a strong faith and the assurance God is in control, our spiritual shepherds have not been immune to unease, stress, and setbacks.

In early 2020, Indiana Ministries teamed up with Illinois Ministries, Church of God Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania Ministries of the Church of God to hold a virtual event, “Soul Care.” Carl Addison (Indiana Ministries) reported that Mindy Caliguire of the organization held the event. It was so well received that Doug Talley (Indiana), Esther Cottrell (Ohio), Eric Livingston (Illinois), and Rebecca New-Edson (Western Pennsylvania) began talking about what it would look like to hold a larger, multi-state event with Soul Care.

Last year, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania partnered with Earthen Vessel Ministries to offer the Soul Care Virtual Retreat for pastors.

Soul Care was an in-person and virtual event held last August. The theme was “A Healthy Soul in the Heat of Leadership.” Pastor Carl Addison organized the event. He is the director of Thrive for Indiana Ministries and the director of Earthen Vessel Ministries. He said, “[regional pastors in and around Indiana] felt the need coming out of COVID that we needed to pay attention to the spiritual health of pastors.”

The state pastors met several times to hatch an event in August 2021. Carl contacted Soul Care, organized the event, and obtained funding. Pastors were given the option to attend numerous watch-party events. In addition, participants could watch from home.

Regional Pastors’ Reaction

The regional state pastors were encouraged by the outcome of the event.

Doug Talley with Indiana Ministries commented, “One of the biggest benefits is that pastors are rediscovering how critical it is for them to have a healthy soul that is connected to the presence of God…. By focusing on soul health, pastors are able to let their relationship with Christ empower them to be more self-differentiated and not to own the emotions of people in their church.”

Pastor Esther Cottrell, of Church of God Ohio Ministries (COGO), added, “As the pandemic has worn on, several RPs [regional pastors], including me, noted that there was a spiritual weariness that many pastors were carrying. After the Soul Care Virtual Retreat, many pastors from Ohio and the other states immediately signed up to go deeper with peer-led spiritual direction. These pastors have expressed that they benefited from the Soul Care experience by sharing the journey with ministry peers, getting to know others at a deeper soul-level, and most importantly, finding in the fellowship of others, a deeper, refreshed relationship with God.”

Pastor Eric Livingston, of Illinois Ministries, added, “I was delighted that the four states (Western PA was involved, too) provided the webinar on Soul Care. I have spent extra time these last two years encouraging pastors and church leaders to ‘take care of their souls’. I think the webinar opened up the conversation about soul care and pastors felt more comfortable talking about real issues. There are many states and regions that work well together. Prior to the pandemic, many of us were colleagues. The pandemic has brought a lot of pain and suffering, but one bright spot for me has been the growth of relationships among regions and regional pastors.”

Pastor Addison was pleased with the outcome. “COVID weariness has affected many pastors,” he said. “I’ve heard feedback from others that this was a lifeline to some of them. It has met a deeply felt need.”

Pastor Addison is working with state pastors to hold another virtual event this year. For information, contact Carl at carl@evmonline.org.

For more information on Earthen Vessel Ministries, visit www.evmonline.org. For the Soul Care organization, visit www.soulcare.com.

Kevin Spear has worked for Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and has regularly contributed time and talent to the work of Church of God Ministries. He is a ministry partner with his wife Paula, a Family Ministry Pastor at Catalyst Church, Pendleton.

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