Dear PPPC –
What is a Parish Associate? I’m so glad you asked!
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has some funny terms and from time to time, it’s good to check in or have a refresher.
The title Parish Associate is used to refer to an ordained PC(USA) pastor who is a participant in a congregation, but not serving in an Installed Pastoral role. These folks have served congregations in pastoral roles or the greater church during previous seasons of life. They have been ordained to the ministry of Teaching Elder (our official Presbyterian term for Pastor), but now work outside the church or are honorably retired.
Our congregation is very blessed to have not one, but two Parish Associates as part of our family of faith. Pastors Linda Chase and Eileen Lindner continue to share their gifts for congregational ministry, with Session support, through education, preaching, and pastoral care.
You may ask, why bother with an official designation, when Pastors Linda and Eileen have long been caring for this congregation? The answer is both simple and profound: Once a person is ordained in the PC(USA), they can never again be a member of a congregation. Instead, their membership, like mine, is to the Presbytery (our regional governing church body).
In addition to the sharing of gifts, the title and office of Parish Associate is a way for a congregation to say, “You belong here.” It is a formal way for us to say, “You belong to us, just as we belong to you.”
I just know you feel similarly as me, we are blessed to have two Parish Associates. Their ministry and friendship to us and among us is most certainly a gift from God. Just in case you don’t already know them, or in the event that you might learn something new about their background…their photos and bios are below!
Yours for the journey,