Congregational Development


Congregational Development concerns itself specifically with empowering and enlivening the ministry of every congregation of the Presbytery. We love working with any congregation seeking to become healthier, stronger and more vital, as a primary unit of mission.  We also provide grants for new initiatives from Presbytery mission giving.  Meets on the 4th Thursday, 9:30am at the Presbytery office.



Sue Hockey
(N. Bergen)

Rev. Ed Hoener

Rev. Carol Anne Strawbridge

Rev. Michelle Sumption


Sue Edwards

Rev. Aaron Neff

Barbara Sixbey

Rev. Lynette Sparks

Ex-Officio Members

Presbytery Leader
Rev. Amy Williams Fowler

Presbyter for Mission and Education
Susan Orr

CDC Ready to Help You!

Congregational Development Committee,
Presbytery of Genesee Valley

From time to time our Congregational Development Committee has been asked about the kinds of support or assistance we offer to congregations, especially congregations experiencing any kind of distress.  Here is a brief summary of the ways we are prepared to accompany you in your ministry and mission.  To get started, all you have to do is call!  Contact Presbytery Leader Amy Williams Fowler (242-0080), or Presbyter for Mission & Education Susan Orr (242-0099), or Committee Chair Bill Haake (755-8253).  We’ll be glad to help!

PRESENCE:  We will come to a Session meeting, or any other gathering, to listen and respond to whatever issues people might wish to raise with us.  Whatever issues, questions or concerns are raised we will do our very best to respond on the spot, or pledge to find answers that we don’t have at hand.

CONSULTATION:  We will attend a Session meeting, retreat, Bible study, women’s organization, workshop, or any kind of gathering whose purpose is to advance a congregation’s ministry.  We can serve as a resource, a respondent, or a team member for the purpose of clarifying issues and generating new ideas.  We can also meet one-on-one with pastors.  

COACHING:  In some cases we are willing to serve as on-going “coaches” for congregations that are making a concerted effort to improve the health of their ministry.  This would normally involve a modest fee if multiple visits are expected over a period of time.  A Small Ministry Grant (offered several times each year by our committee) could help cover the cost of coaching.

TOOLBOX:  There are a number of proven approaches to assist congregations that want to become healthier.  Here are four that we are most familiar with:  Natural Church Development, Unbinding the Gospel, New Beginnings, and Paul Nixon’s “I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church”.  These can be used by a congregation without outside assistance, but we have found that an outside person increases the chances of success.  Printed materials relating to these approaches can be found at the PresbyteryResourceCenter. 

TEAM:  In more serious situations we are available to participate in a team of “emergency responders” along with the Committee on Ministry and Presbytery Trustees.  While practical suggestions may prove helpful, the most important dimension of this is conveying to a congregation the willingness of Presbytery to “walk alongside” during challenging times. 

TRIENNIAL:  A Triennial Visit can be a perfect opportunity for congregations and our committee to check in with each other.  In our opinion three years (or more!) between these visits is too long.  Our approach to Triennial Visits has less to do with investigation or judgment and much more to do with encouragement and support.  If we had our way every Session would be visited ANNUALLY – a better reflection of our new vision and strategy that places congregations at the forefront of Presbytery’s attentions.

GRANTS:  Small Ministry Grants are made available by our committee in the spring and fall of each year.  These are for projects usually needing no more than $1,200.  The grants are not renewable, but are a great way to start a new ministry initiative.  We will even help you compose the grant request!

TELEPHONE:  At the very least, any church member is welcome to call any Congregational Development Committee member on the telephone to just talk, laugh, cry, vent or pray!


Congregational Development Grants

The Congregational Development Committee is accepting grant applications from member churches for CONGREGATIONAL TRANSFORMATION PROJECTS and SCHOLARSHIPS FOR CONGREGATIONAL TRANSFORMATION LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES.

These grants offer congregations an opportunity to engage in bold ministries of transformational change. Is there some arena of church life that would benefit from positive change?  Are you willing to take a risk and try something new?

Projects may include:

… implementing a one-time event or an ongoing series of activities

… engaging in mission projects

… training congregational leaders to gain new skills and equip them for ministry

… acquiring resources, equipment, staff, educational support

… developing spiritual revitalization endeavors

… reaching a new audience

…your unique ideas!

Preference will be given to:

  1. Requests for new applicants
  2. Requests for new projects
  3. Requests from those who haven’t received funds from other Presbytery sources.

Mission contributions by churches to the Presbytery make these grants possible.


Grant Amount



Church Transformation

$700 – $1200



Questions? Contact Congregational Development Committee Chair

Rev. Kevin Hershey [email protected] or 244-8585


Cheryl Battaglia [email protected] at the Presbytery office 585-242-0080

**  2016 2nd Chance Grant cover and application  **

The Congregational Development Committee no longer offers Cooperative Ministry grants.  If you are interested in this type of grant please contact Three Committees Collaborating (via Susan Orr [email protected]).

Natural Church Development

ncd-logoA tool for developing Healthy, Growing Churches

The Natural Church Development community, based in Germany, includes over 40,000 churches in 60 countries around the world committed to being healthy, growing congregations.

The Congregational Development Committee happily supports the Presbyterian churches of Genesee Valley in their efforts to be healthy, growing churches.

In our new Natural Church Development section, you can learn about Natural Church Development, how three congregations in our Presbytery have used Natural Church Development, and how the Congregational Development Committee can help your congregation embark on Natural Church Development.

Urban Presbyterians Together

upt-logoUrban Presbyterians Together (UPT) is a network of clergy and lay leaders in eleven urban congregations in Rochester. UPT offers mutual support and programs of particular interest to our urban congregations.


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