Dear Members and Friends of Ridglea Presbyterian Church,
Grace to you and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I write to you today as a pastor with a heart full of gratitude for the ways in which you continue to support and nurture both me and my family.
As many of you know, a little over a week ago, I was awarded the Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. You have been so kind with your cards and expressions of congratulations, but I want you to know that I literally could not have done it without you. To be able to study is an incredible gift and privilege, and I am so very grateful for the ways in which Ridglea Presbyterian Church values and supports education in myriad ways. I can’t begin to express my thanks to you, to the church staff, and most especially to my family for the sacrifices they’ve made along the way, and I’m excited about the opportunities we’ll have later this summer to continue learning together.
Many have asked about the difference between a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). As the dean of McCormick Seminary once put it, the Doctor of Ministry degree qualifies one to be a teacher of the Church, whereas the Doctor of Philosophy qualifies one to be a teacher of the Academy. Formally, it is appropriate to refer to me as “The Reverend Doctor Baer” but as always, Ryan or Pastor Ryan will do.
In about a week’s time, Amy and the boys and I will gather once again in Alabama with five other clergy families from across the nation for a week of study and renewal. These dear colleagues and their families have become like an extended family to us over the years, and we have seen much growth in each other. In fact, when we first began meeting in 2009, there were just two children in our group. This year, there will be 14 kids in the house, ranging in age from two to ten! Thank you for providing my family and I this opportunity to reconnect with each other, with clergy colleagues and their families, and with the God whom we worship and serve. Our featured speaker for the week this year will be Dr. Brennan Breed, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary.
We will return to Texas on Friday, June 1, just in time for me to wash clothes, repack my bags, and kiss Amy and the boys goodbye on Sunday, June 3, as I board a flight with eight other Fort Worth pastors bound for the Holy Land. We will be spending five nights near the Sea of Galilee and five nights in Jerusalem, day-tripping to biblical sites all over Israel. This is all made possible through Macedonian Ministries, an Atlanta-based ecumenical ministry that seeks to strengthen pastors, congregations, and communities. Our group will return to Texas on June 16, and I will be eager to see your faces again in worship again on Father’s’ Day, June 17!
In the five-plus years we’ve been together as pastor and congregation, I’ve never been away from the church for this many consecutive days. I’m so grateful for your gift of this extended time away, and I have supreme trust in the leadership of the session and the staff.
The session has lined up some wonderful supply preachers for the next three Sundays. On May 27, we’ll welcome the Rev. Dr. John Williams, Chaplain and Director of Church Relations at Austin College in Sherman. On June 3, the Rev. Julie Riley will preach and preside at the Lord’s Table. Julie has served a number of congregations in Grace Presbytery, including Lake Highlands in Dallas and Woodhaven in Irving, where she was my pastor many years ago. On June 10, we’ll welcome Rev. Fred Thompson, who, in addition to running a successful Christian counseling practice a few blocks from the church, just recently retired as the pastor of the Forest Hill Presbyterian Church. Don’t forget that for the summer, we’ll have one combined worship service at 10 a.m.
Again, this pastor’s heart is full of gratitude for you, for Ridglea, and for the exciting journey that lies ahead of us. May God bless you and keep you!
Peace be with you,
(a.k.a. The Reverend Doctor Ryan Baer) 🙂