I am excited and energized to be serving the Synod of Lincoln Trails as the new Director of Connectional Relationships! Opportunities to gather together and support each other have changed over the past few years as we’ve taken to meeting remotely and shifted in our most pressing priorities during the pandemic — which is why I am all the more excited that the synod is investing in this need to be connected and experiment with creative ways to move forward together.

I have deeply valued the connections the synod has provided.  My core community in ministry was established during the New Pastors program shortly after my ordination, helping me build a support network with friends, colleagues, and mentors. As a synod commissioner, I quickly grew to love the conversations that happened over committee work and synod business – but it was the fellowship times built into our meetings that allowed us to bond with each other, sharing stories of how God is at work in the church of now and spurring one another onto energizing ideas for ministry.

The Synod of Lincoln Trails created the position of Director of Connectional Relationships (in partnership with the Presbytery of Chicago) to build and strengthen the fibers of connection between the synod and its congregations. In this role, I will work with ministers and leaders throughout the synod to share resources and ideas. So many of our churches are doing incredible, creative ministry. My hope is to share those stories and resources (and others from around the denomination) to spur our collective imagination of what might be possible in the life of the church — and to make it easier to experiment with these ideas by sharing tools and resources that have already been created.

I have a heart for helping congregations live into their God-given calling — without having to build everything from the ground up. Nothing is better than sharing the story of a ministry and hearing, “Now, we can’t do that exact thing here, but what if we tried….?” To dream together of new expression of God’s love and grace invigorates this work.  So, let’s dream together!

Let’s get to know each other!  I’d love to hear about what’s happening at your church, ministry, or presbytery.  I’d love to talk about how things are going and what you need.

A little about me: In my former life (before seminary), I was in medical communications specializing in neuroscience and psychiatry, primarily developing continuing education for physicians.  A graduate of Dubuque Seminary, I was ordained by Chicago Presbytery and spent 10 years as associate editor of the Presbyterian Outlook; served as Director of Communications for Worship Times (building websites and communication strategies for churches around the country); pastored Rogers Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago; and worked as communications consultant for nonprofits and ministries.

What’s your ministry like these days?  What is exciting you? Where do you see the Spirit at work? And, what’s causing you grief? What would help ease the burden?

As we venture forward together, I want to hear from you.  What do you need from the synod? How can the synod support you?  Let me know.

Do you want to talk about communications?  Review your social media, newsletters, and overall strategy?  Let’s talk!

Are you looking for a conversation partner to think about resources for your context or to imagine about the future of church?  Let’s start the conversation.

I look forward to serving alongside you and supporting the good work that you have been called to do. I can’t wait to hear your stories.  Know that I am praying for you and am here to support you. This is a critical and exciting time for the church. Let’s learn from each other and listen to for how the Spirit is guiding us together.

— Jana Blazek, Director of Connectional Relationships