From Your Parish


Rev. Dierdre Thomson

I thank God when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice.

II Timothy 1:5

May is a busy month: Motherís Day, Pentecost and Memorial Day. How do the three connect? A godly mother is of great importance in the life of a child, and even when the child has become an adult - for that child is still the motherís daughter or son, no matter the age. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, reminding him of the genuine faith of both his grandmother and his mother. Herb Vander Lugt puts it this way: "God used two generations of loving mothers to prepare Timothy for the crucial work he would have in spreading the gospel and establishing congregations of believers in Christ." So it is with other mothers - preparing their sons and daughters for the work set before them - whether that work is defending oneís country, or supporting a family, or leading a nation. Abraham Lincoln stated that, "No man is poor who has had a godly mother." His was a godly mother, and he also saw many such mothers during the Civil War. Which brings us to Memorial Day. Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices our young men and women made to protect our country. The sacrifice was not always death - often it was loss of limb, or loss of mind. At the very least it was loss of time in their lives. Yet, many could be assured that their mothers were praying for them. That whatever happened, there was a direct line to God petitioning for their safety.

While Memorial Day brings remembrance, Pentecost brings celebration. Jesus prayed to the Father that we would receive another Helper. As David McCasland reminds us, "The Spirit lives within each Christian, bringing the peace of Christ along with encouragement and alleviation of grief." it is seldom that Pentecost and Memorial Day fall next to each other as has happened in 2004. But we know that our mothersí prayers are with us, and that the "sweet guest of the soul" is always with us on any day, not just on Motherís Day, Memorial Day, or Pentecost. As we remember those who died or suffered, or who are suffering and dying, let us remember, "in grief, the Spirit is our consolation, the light of our hearts, the giver of everlasting joy".

I pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.

John 14:16

In His Service,

The Rev. Dierdre Thomson and Rev. Dr. Hugh MacKenzie

Link to Associate's Statement for April, 2004

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The question, "What does the Parish Associate do?" sometimes comes up. Our Finance & Administration Chairperson suggested that I write a Newsletter information article for the congregation.

First, to help clarify the difference, the Parish Associate is NOT the Associate Pastor. Associate Pastor is a regular salaried pastoral position.

Second, the Parish Associate is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament who has a primary job elsewhere, may be retired from the pastorate, is not on salary, nor receives hourly wages. Depending on the church, the Parish Associate may receive an honorarium. "A Parish Associate is a minister who serves in some validated ministry other than the local parish ... but who wishes to maintain a relationship with a particular church ... in keeping with ordination to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament ... The Parish Associate shall be responsible to the pastor, as head of staff, on an 'as need, as available' basis and with or without remuneration." G-14.0515 Book of Order

As the Parish Associate, I sometimes preach (including children's sermons) and officiate at weddings, baptisms, and funerals. I attend Staff meetings and Session, and am pastoral representative to the Nominating Committee. I substitute teach, (including New Member Classes), for the Pastor when I am available. I am at the office various mornings or afternoons of the week as works out best with my primary job as Hospice Chaplain. I am at the office most Friday mornings when I am in town. I also fulfill my responsibility as an ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament to Presbytery Committees and attending workshops, seminars and the Stated Presbytery meetings. Community functions are Trustee of the Samaritan Center, and Clergy representative for Centra-State Hospital Community meetings.

The areas in which I am most involved as Parish Associate are counseling, bereavement, and visitation. Having completed Confirmand responsibilities, I am now working with the Deacons in preparing a presentation to Session and the congregation of the Stephen Ministry program of caring. We ask for your prayers and support.

While my primary job as recognized by Presbytery is that of Hospice Chaplain, and I easily average 10 - 15 hours a week serving Old Tennent, my involvement at Old Tennent under the direct supervision of the Pastor is also somewhat discretionary. I hope this helps you understand the role of the Parish Associate. It is a calling to seek God's will and to follow it. I look forward to continuing to be of service to God, and to Old Tennent Church.