While it is Tuscarora's mission to serve the entirety of the Christian Community we are an affiliate organization of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. Founded in 1971 with the intention of serving as a retreat center for the denomination - we still host programs specifically designed for the Eastern Region of churches.
Because of this relationship, Tuscarora sees it as an important part of it's ministry to care for the men and women who care for these churches. We are thankful for a week out of every summer where our pastors and their families come to Tuscarora for refreshment and encouragement.
We are thankful that God allows us to minister in this way. Below, Pastor Ryan Nilsen tells the story of his family's experience at Pastor's School.
Lead Pastor of Praise Christian Fellowship, a CLB congregation in northwest Connecticut, and Executive Director of Fifth Act Church Planting. He and his wife Kjirsti have five children and have served at Praise for ten years. Ryan has participated in Tuscarora ministries since he was a kid.
One of the things that I am thankful for as a pastor is that my kids actually love being pastors’ kids! My church deserves a lot of credit for not placing unrealistic expectations on my children or treating them differently from other kids, but one of the things that my kids love the most about being a “PK” is the chance to go to Pastors’ School every summer. In fact, they start looking forward to it about a day after the previous one wraps up! My wife Kjirsti and I feel the same way—we look forward to the chance to get away to Pastors’ School each year.
What is Pastors’ School? If you attend a congregation that is part of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren (CLB)—Tuscarora’s “home denomination,” you may have heard about it in passing. Before I attended, I had no idea what it was. It sounded either like a really tedious ordeal or a cover name for a vacation. It isn’t either of those things. It’s become an important part of the well-being of my pastoral ministry, and it is a huge blessing for my entire family. Let me tell you about Pastors’ School—one of Tuscarora’s most high-impact, far-reaching ministries in terms of its investments in the kingdom of God.
For five days every August, Tuscarora hosts Eastern Region CLB pastors and their families for a week of continuing education, rest, recreation, and bonding. While the CLB Eastern Region funds the educational expenses, Tuscarora quietly underwrites the bulk of the cost, providing lodging, meals, and meeting spaces for pastors, their wives, and their children—and at no charge to pastors or their congregations!
Here’s what a typical day at Pastors’ School looks like: Pastors and wives spend the morning in educational sessions together, deepening biblical knowledge or gaining ministry skills. In the afternoons, families spend time together at the pool, canoeing, tubing, playing volleyball, and more. In the evenings, pastors and wives gather together for times of worship and often receive more training. Through the course of each day at Pastors’ School, pastors engage in several renewing experiences that are crucial for resilient, enduring ministry: 1) continuing education, 2) peer support, 3) sabbath, and 4) recreation. Tuscarora provides the setting for these experiences that are not easy for pastors to schedule on their own.
It is vital for pastors to continue to hone their ministry skills through continuing education, yet it can be challenging amidst the daily demands of ministry to find the time to invest in training. Through Pastors’ School, clergy and their wives have opportunities to develop their biblical knowledge and ministry skills so they can return to their congregations better-equipped for their ministry calling.
Pastoral ministry tends to be a high-stress, sedentary vocation that places great demands on pastors and their families. To compound the problem, few pastors have the financial resources to cope with those stresses. Through Pastors’ School, pastors have a chance to find renewal and rest. They can recharge their batteries and along with their spouses enjoy fellowship with other clergy couples who can relate to the challenges and demands of vocational ministry.
Through Pastors’ School, Tuscarora comes alongside every CLB congregation in the Eastern Region to help them care for and develop their pastors. You may already value Tuscarora for its dynamic summer youth camps, weekend retreats, or their Christmas concerts, and now I hope you will appreciate how much Tuscarora does to ensure the health of pastors and their families as they serve congregations along the east coast. Thank you, Tuscarora!