At the end of 2017 Albany Presbytery voted to approve two ongoing strategies as the presbytery’s mission. The first was a strategy on Congregational Renewal, which involved each congregation establishing a Ministry Plan. The second was to emphasize five skill areas that we agreed are needed to be an effective Pastoral Leader in the 21st century. One of those five areas is “Community Organizing.”

Let’s face it, the days are long over when all a church needed to be successful was to provide worship, pastoral care, and a Sunday School. These days those key items are considered basic to a church’s identity, but won’t get your congregation noticed by most in your community. Churches need to make a larger and important impact for the betterment of their neighborhood to be viewed as being relevant and a vital presence by community. Most of these enterprises, however, are bigger than any church can do alone, at least the truly significant ones. Therefore, the church needs to learn how to be an effective community organizer to recruit, lead, and coalesce the energy and talents of other organizations around it, whether they be religious or secular institutions.

There is more to Community Organizing then simply calling a meeting of concerned people. Community Organizing includes ongoing networking, strategizing, oversight, recruitment, and follow through, among other skills. It may sound exhausting and potentially frustrating on this side of the issue, but once you get started making a real difference in your community, the energy and momentum is life-giving and the frustrations are minimized by having the knowledge that this certificate program will provide.

The accredited certification program Community Organizing and Congregational Leadership is being led by Johnson C. Smith Seminary, the Metro Industrial Area Foundation, and Next Church. The key leaders are:

  • Bishop Douglas Miles, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD)
  • Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, BUILD & NEXT Church
  • Mr. Rob English, BUILD
  • Rev. Jessica Tate, NEXT Church
  • Rev. Paul Roberts, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
  • Ms. Kathleen O’Toole, Metro IAF
  • …among others…

The program is in two parts:

  1. A week-long intensive October 22-26 in Baltimore, MD, and
  2. A six- month distance learning program.

The Development and Vitality Committee of Albany Presbytery will pay your tuition for both portions or if you only wish to attend the week-long intensive. (You cannot participate in only the distance learning portion).

To see more details about the program visit:

About Rev. Dr. Tim Coombs

Tim Coombs serves as co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY with his wife, Rev. Kathleen Gorman-Coombs and leads a New Worshiping Community, Parallels ( He also worked on staff at Albany Presbytery for over a decade. Besides his work for the church, Tim is a storyteller, biker, guitar player, and intern to his cat, Sharpie. You can reach Tim at:

The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.