This website is intended partly for the use of Lay Academy of Utica Presbytery students, faculty, and the academy's steering committee. It also provides an introduction to the programs and courses of the Lay Academy for those who are considering entering its programs. We trust that others will also find this website useful. Please feel welcome!
STUDENTS, you can access course pages either from the Quick Links box on the left of this home page or from the Curriculum Page, which contains brief descriptions of each course.
Spring Special Course Offerings
May 6 LA Micro course - Doing Centering Prayer Leader: Rev. Dr. John Wilde
Location: Westminster-Moriah-Olivet, 714 Washington Street, Utica
Practice centering prayer and lectio divina with a group to support and encourage you on your spiritual journey. Whether you have been practicing for years or just beginning, you’ll find this a meaningful day.
May 13 9:30 a.m. Micro course - Holy Communion training for church elders Leader: Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes
Location: First Presbyterian Church, Cooperstown
May 17 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Micro course - Holy Communion training for church elders
Leader: Rev. Susan Solomon
Location: First Presbyterian Church, Holland Patent
For more information concerning all of these courses, please contact Rev. Naomi Kelly (Dean) PO Box 220, Old Forge, NY 13420; C: 315-369-8253; email@example.com.
The Challenge We Face
Churches in Utica Presbytery, Presbyterian churches generally, and the whole Christian movement in America are in decline. An avalanche of studies conducted by the most reputable religious research centers document a drop in worship attendance, membership, and giving that began—oh so quietly—in the 1960s. In our own Presbyterian Church (USA) only somewhere between one-third and one-fourth of congregations are strong, growing churches. The rest are in various states of decline. Churches that once numbered 400 or 500 members now list 150, 100, or less.
Churches "in decline," however, are still lively faith communities of worship, service, and fellowship. They still carry out vital ministries to their communities and to each other. They still need trained pastoral leadership even when their congregation can’t afford a full-time minister. The challenge facing the Lay Academy of Utica Presbytery is to identify, train, and support lay pastoral leadership. In effect, the academy is called to train something new, a “lay clergy.” The official term is Commissioned Lay Pastor (CLP).
The coming generation of “lay clergy” or CLPs work part-time and receive only modest compensation, if any, for their service. In Utica Presbytery, however, they are already important leaders in our churches and in the presbytery. Six of the presbytery's churches are currently being served by CLPs, and graduates of the Lay Academy provide active leadership in many other churches. The Lay Academy, thus, has the challenge and the opportunity to help lay the groundwork for this important, even exciting "lay clergy" ministry.
If you are an ordained elder in a member church of Utica Presbytery thinking and praying about whether or not you have a call to become a trained CLP, this website is for you—and the Lay Academy may well be for you as well. We invite you to browse the contents of our pages. Look at what is going on in some of the courses. And if you think that the call to lay pastoral ministry is something you want to explore further don’t hesitate to contact our dean, the Rev. Naomi Kelley.
Where many today despair at “what’s happening to the church,” we see opportunity for new forms of service. Think about it. Pray on it. Maybe, you are being called, too.