Drawing us back into that vital relationship with God

Rev. Patricia (Pat) Hernandez

Consultant for Leadership Health ABC-Michigan
Kalamazoo, MI

The Rev. Patricia (Pat) Hernandez is deeply devoted to her ministry of fostering spiritual health in the pastoral leaders of her Region — the ABC of Michigan. Her official title is "Consultant for the ABC of Michigan Leadership Health," which, translated, means she cares deeply for the pastoral leaders of Michigan and is doing all she can to help them maintain spiritual health, vitality, and fruitfulness.

Excerpts from a phone interview:

In our Region (ABC-Michigan) we have focused our resources on the mission of "Growing Healthy Churches." We know that healthy clergy are key to having healthy congregations. But clergy burnout is at an all-time high often attacking talented, committed pastors in their prime. Moreover, clergy struggle with heart disease, depression, and work-related stress at levels higher than the general population.

At ABC-MI, we asked ourselves, "What can we do to impact the health of our pastors?" Initially, we formed "Ministry Leadership Groups," groups of pastors led by a Peer Leader, with the purpose of stimulating minds, enhancing health, nurturing relationships and deepening spirituality as we seek to promote personal growth and professional development.

As these groups have developed, we have come to realize that, in ministering to our pastors, it's not only about the development of leadership skills, though that is important; it is also centrally about spiritual health, about deepening our spiritual lives, our relationship with God, and with one another. Clergy burn-out and moral failures do not generally occur due to a lack of ministry skills, but from losing vital connection with God. There are plenty of skillful leaders; what our churches-and the world-need are leaders guided by the Holy Spirit.

What I appreciate about Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries is that you are drawing us back into that vital relationship with God. Your ministry invites and opens us to the dynamic energy of the Holy Spirit, without which we end up going through the motions of our ministries in a hollow way. Rather than the hollowing process of secular society, the Holy Spirit hallows our lives, infusing us with renewed, energy, excitement, and enthusiasm, the 'abundant living' into which Christ invites us.

I also appreciate how HSRM succeeds in drawing us together in Christ. In a time when many who love Christ are experiencing divisions over a number of issues, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit which draws us together as community in Christ and enables us to focus on that which is truly important. HSRM is a bridge that the Spirit is using to bring us together to claim the presence of God and to more fully and effectively live that out in our churches and communities.

I was personally encouraged and strengthened by my participation in your HSRM Weekend of Renewal in Lansing (Michigan) this past April. In the busyness of life, we clergy can often find ourselves doing prayer like rushing through the "take-out" lane of a fast food restaurant. It was refreshing for me to take some extended time to focus on God, to let the cacophony of chaotic calls settle down and to listen for His voice and His Call. HSRM is calling us back to Christ, to being a community that claims the presence of Christ, witnessing to that and living it out in our world.

I believe that God is using HSRM to renew our churches and our denomination so whatever I can do to further your — and ultimately HIS — cause, I will. I hope you will return to Michigan and I am hoping to go to the Holy Spirit conference in Green Lake next summer. Stay in touch! Blessings on your vital and valuable ministry!

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