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After spending a year studying books by Rev. Eugene Peterson, seven Christian Reformed pastors from the northeast United States traveled to Lakeside, Mont., to spend two days with the author himself.

Peterson, author of The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible, took the pastors on a prayer walk. The group climbed a small mountain, where Peterson talked with them about pastors’ spirituality and its relation to preaching, pastoral care, and spiritual development. Rev. Ed Gerber of Webster (N.Y.) Christian Reformed Church described the experience as a time of “enjoying God’s creation and being listeners.”

The seven pastors are part of a Peer Learning group supported by the CRC’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program. The Christian Reformed Church received a $2 million grant in 2002 from the Lilly Endowment to support and strengthen pastors so they can help build healthy congregations. There are currently 81 Peer Learning groups with a total of 450 pastors participating.     

On their final evening in Montana, the seven pastors received communion in the Petersons’ home.

The group hopes to return to Montana with their spouses and the Petersons. “We all want to go back,” said Rev. James Vande Lune of Immanuel CRC in Wappinger Falls, N.Y. “We feel like there is so much more we can learn.”

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