January 2022 brings major changes in the leadership of the Michigan Disciples region. One change will be each of our districts having a Regional Associate, serving part-time, while also leading their current congregations.
The Rev. Robert Larimer, pastor of Blaine Christian Church, Arcadia, has been named Regional Associate for the North District, including eight congregations. The West District with 11 congregations will be served by the Rev. Peter Morgan, pastor at Cowden Lake Christian Church, Coral. The Rev. Apostle John Harvey, pastor of Serenity Christian Church, Hazel Park will oversee 18 congregations in the East District.
All this comes with the retirement in December of Regional Minister, Eugene James and the calling, part-time, of Rev. Dr. Teresa Dulyea-Parker as Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Michigan Region.
“The role of the Regional Associates is a vital one and we are blessed that the three named Regional Associates will bring their gifts and experience to this work,” said James.
The three associates will work closely with our new Regional Minister, Dulyea-Parker, providing regular contact with clergy and congregations in their districts. They will provide pastoral care for clergy and families, referring critical situations to the Regional Minister.
“I look forward to working with our Regional Associates,” said Teresa, “to provide support, encouragement and colleagueship for our Michigan clergy and congregations. They will be vital conversation and ministry partners. It’s all about connection.”
The associates will be called upon to facilitate communication and fellowship between and among congregations in the district as well a provide networking of clergy and facilitating clergy peer groups in the district.
Regional Associates, with assistance from other clergy and lay leaders in their Districts, will be called upon to “be present in congregations and with ministers on behalf of the Region,” as described in the position profile description.
They each will receive a stipend for their regional work and be reimbursed for travel and meal expenses. The position provides care and support to congregations and clergy while the Regional Minister retains responsibility for search and call, clergy misconduct, crisis/conflict management within congregations.
With the new expanded responsibilities of Regional Associates, the current Regional Elders service will be completed in December. Current Regional Elders are John McCauslin – East, Rev. Terry Van Heyningen – North, and Rev. Robert Oliveira – West.
Clergy Care Consultants/Coaches
Eugene James and Teresa Dulyea-Parker also announced that beginning in the new year, the Rev. Amy Bertchausen will provide support to our clergy as a clergy care consultant. Amy, with 35 years of ministry experience and 15 years of supporting clergy and congregations, will be available for clergy supportive care beginning January 2022.
“In our search for Regional Associates,” explained Teresa, “we also have discovered other gifts in the region. Rev. Amy Bertchausen has a passion and significant experience in supporting and encouraging clergy.
“She will provide coaching, consulting and spiritual direction for our clergy in an on-call capacity. Amy and I also talked about clergy support groups on topics like family systems.
“I also am in conversation with another pastoral care-giver,” Dulyea-Parker added, “to provide on-call services for spiritual health coaching. This may also include specific groups for clergy care. Hopefully, we will be able to make this arrangement to provide more diversity for our clergy.”
Both coaches/consultants will offer services virtually and there will be a sliding fee.