May 21, 2018—As a bi-vocational pastor, I am constantly reflecting on how one vocation informs the other. I serve a small congregation but I also work through The Outreach Foundation to resource small churches, and to connect them with our global partners.
The Presbyterian church in Taguasco, Cuba, is the easternmost church in the Central Presbytery. The church building is literally falling apart. Interior walls are are riddled by a network of cracks. Engineers tell them the deterioration is so bad it would be cheaper to rebuild than to repair, but they are reluctant to spend money on the building when they see such needs around them.
There was a time, following the revolution, when membership in the Taguasco church dwindled to one person who showed up faithfully each Sunday to worship, to open the church doors and remind the surrounding community they worshiped God even when the government declared there was no God. Now there are 30 members, though many of them are old.
Age does not stop them from being the church. Led by a young woman pastor, Dina Izquierdo, the congregation doesn’t just meet for worship on Sunday. They serve meals to seniors two times each week, provide books from the local library and have formed a senior choir. “It is so tempting for the church to focus so much on the young people that they forget the seniors,” one elder told us.
But they haven’t forgotten the children and youth either. Saturday brings as many as 35 children to the church for tutoring and a meal. They are also a critical component of service to the neighborhood of Las Margaritas, ministering especially to the women of the neighborhood, many of whom are engaged in prostitution.
When asked what inspires them to keep going, one elder responded, “Ours is not a Jesus of the Temple. He is a Jesus of the people. We take Jesus to the people. We don’t expect that the people will come to the church.”
As a small church pastor, working with severely limited resources, it is tempting to let those limitations define and restrict the ministry of the congregation. I have learned from these saints of the Church in Cuba to focus instead on the unlimited power and resources of Jesus at work through the Holy Spirit.
Camille Josey is a bi-vocational pastor who serves as part-time solo pastor to the Silver Creek Presbyterian Church (FB @SilverCreekPCUSA) in Silver Creek, Georgia and as Small Church Mission Catalyst for The Outreach Foundation. Camille’s faith was shaped and nurtured in a small congregation. Through her travels in Cuba, Pakistan and Israel/Palestine, she has witnessed the ways in which God is using small churches to turn the world upside down.
Camille spent more than two decades in the business world before answering a call to ministry. She has served on the staff of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, Kairos Church Atlanta and five years at Silver Creek Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Camille Josey will be co-facilitator, with Jonathan Davis, of our Colloquy for Rural Church Pastors (two sessions: August 6-8, 2018 and February 11-13, 2019). Click here for the application. Join us!