Join the Presbytery of West Virginia for the 2023 Small Church Conference from 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at Elk Hills Presbyterian Church in Charleston. The theme for this 9th annual event is Ministry in the Wilderness. (Click for a flyer.)

Rev. Dr. Judi Slater, who previously presented at our 2019 & 2021 Small Church Conferences, will be the keynote presenter. Judi has been pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Duquesne, PA, since 1992. Over the past 31 years, the church has evolved from an aging, white congregation without much connection to their under-resourced community to a multicultural congregation with many community ministries. It has become a Matthew 25 church, and this vision continues to guide the church’s ministry in new and exciting directions. In addition to pastoring First, Duquesne, Judi served in ministry for seven years as the Associate Presbyter for Pittsburgh Presbytery, working with smaller congregations. For three years, she also served as part of a Shared Ministry Team at Lincoln Place Presbyterian Church. A graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, she has participated in many church revitalization programs over the years, most recently completing the Church Planting and Revitalization Certificate at PTS.

Judi’s keynote will be “A Journey of Faith.” The church as we know it is changing and it may seem like we are wandering aimlessly in the wilderness with our ministry, but what if God is preparing us for and leading us to the promised land of blessing and purpose as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today? What if God wants to change the world through us? The smaller congregations have a unique strength for this kind of journey and much to contribute. We can make a difference; God can change the world through us!

Additionally, participants have the chance to attend their choice of two workshops from three offered: A Journey of Compassion, Forum on PWV’s Future Direction, and Commissioned Pastor: Could God Be Calling You? Or Someone You Know?

A Journey of Compassion will be led by Judi Slater. Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath by religious people who missed that Jesus was showing them a greater way of love and compassion. What does it mean for us to live a life of compassion? What would it look like for your church to be focused on compassion? What if the wilderness journey we are on in ministry today is one of changing our focus from religious traditions to ministries of love and compassion? Maybe God is leading us away from doing church to the promised land of being the church in the world. This workshop will explore ways in which God may be calling the church today to a journey of love and compassion in the world.

The Forum on PWV’s Future Direction will be led by Presbytery Moderator Dave Lee and other Presbytery leadership. Everything is changing – in our world, in our churches, and in our presbytery. In order to be faithful to God and to our call, the Presbytery of West Virginia has chosen to enter prayerfully into a season of discernment. Come learn about the process, and bring your questions, suggestions, hopes, and fears as we listen for the voice of Jesus Christ leading us into our future.

Commissioned Pastor: Could God Be Calling You? Or Someone You Know? will be led by Susan Sharp Campbell, the Presbytery’s Associate for Educational Ministry. Pastoral leadership is changing in the PCUSA and in the Presbytery of West Virginia. Where once upon a time, most congregations were led by a minister of Word & Sacrament, these days a number of our churches have called ruling elders commissioned to particular pastoral service to serve as their Commissioned Pastors. In the future, it is likely that more congregations will be served by Commissioned Pastors, and at times by those from among their own ruling elders. At times, it may feel like we’re finding our way through the wilderness as folks sense a call to serve as Authorized Lay Preachers (who provide pulpit supply) and Commissioned Pastors, and as congregations seek to discern if their next pastor might be a Commissioned Pastor rather than a minister of Word & Sacrament. This workshop will be an opportunity to engage in conversation around leadership opportunities as to whether God might be calling you to be a Commissioned Pastor or your congregation to call a Commissioned Pastor.

The schedule for this free event is as follows: 
9:15-9:45-10: Registration and refreshments
10-10:45: Worship and The Lord’s Supper
10:45-11:30: Keynote: A Journey of Faith
11:30-12:20: Lunch and fellowship
12:30-1:30: Workshop choice 1
1:45-2:45: Workshop choice 2
3: Regather in sanctuary for closing prayer

Elk Hills Presbyterian Church is located at 109 Church Rd. in Charleston. Enter on Viking Road for parking.

Lunch will be provided. There will be several choices of sandwiches, plus salad, dessert, and drinks.

Attendees are asked to bring donations of canned soup for the Lower Elk River Ministry Association (LERMA) Food Pantry.

Please note that the worship service will be streamed via the Elk Hills Presbyterian Church Facebook page. Worship is from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and then will be available on their Facebook page after that. All are welcome to join for this service.

Registration deadline is Sept. 30. Register using the form below, or submit your name, church, a contact email or phone number, and your workshop choices to the Presbytery office at