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A veteran CRC pastor has high praise for the Christian Reformed Board of Trustees’ decision to continue important parts of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program. The SPE program faces the end of its $3 million Lilly Endowment grant in December.

One element continuing will be pastor peer groups.

“As part of a pastor peer group for quite a few years, I saw personal benefit as well as encouragement for younger pastors. I’m totally in agreement with the decision to continue this program,” says the pastor.

The CRC budget for 2011-12 includes funds for peer groups, for conferences for spouses of pastors, and for pastor-spouse learning events. The denomination was awarded $2 million in 2002 and $1 million in 2007.

Proposals for peer learning groups for pastors will continue to be accepted by Nov. 1 and May 1. You can find more information on the SPE website:

"What we learned . . . is just how necessary and needed SPE is in fostering excellence in ministry in the majority of our pastors and many of our pastors’ spouses," says an SPE report sent earlier this year to the Lilly Endowment.

The SPE program has become more flexible over time and learned what types of approaches for peer groups work best.

"I believe that SPE is one of the best programs the CRC has designed in years, perhaps decades. Meeting with my peers has been invaluable," says another pastor.

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