The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as the Interim Coordinator, Preparation for Ministry/Exams for Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly.
“... the Land that I Will Show You” is the blog of the Office of Preparation for Ministry/Examinations of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This blog is designed to serve as a resource for those discerning and preparing for a call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament as ordained teaching elders of the church. It will also provide a place for reflecting on and dialoging about the changing context of pastoral ministry in the early 21st century.
For quick announcements about changes or developments in the preparation process, dates related to exams or other key events, discussion boards, surveys, etc., you can follow us on Facebook at “Preparing for Presbyterian Ministry.”
As I work with presbyteries across the church one of the questions I am often asked is about training opportunities to support preparation for ministry committee leaders and members. Well, this year will mark the fifth biennial Healthy Ministry Conference, the primary national training event in this area. It is part of Big Tent that will be held in Louisville, Kentucky from August 1-3.
The Healthy Ministry Conference addresses a broad range of issues related to mid council work with candidates, teaching elders and congregations, so in this blog I want to highlight some of the workshops that focus on particular concerns for those engaged with inquirers and candidates in discerning their calls and assessing their gifts for ministry.
In planning the conference, care is given to include topics of interest to folks who are new to this work as well as experienced hands. For those who are still gaining a sense of the lay of the land, I will be leading “CPM 101” that will provide an overview of not only “what” we do but also “why” we do it in terms of our Reformed understanding of ministry (and not just, “Because the Book of Order says so”). Michelle Bartel, former moderator of the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC), will offer a session on how to best use the standard examinations in the process and looking at some recent and upcoming changes to the examinations program.
If you think you have the basics pretty well in hand, you may be interested in a couple of offerings by Mark Sundby, director of the North Central Ministry Development Council, around new assessment tools, particularly as they relate to what is now being referred to as “TLQ”—transformational leadership quotient. I will also offer a workshop on “The Value of Exceptions for CPMs” that will explore the opportunities for increased flexibility in the Book of Order and making decisions about when and how to take advantage of them.
The 220th General Assembly (2012) created a special committee to review the overall process of preparing to receive a call as a teaching elder within the Presbyterian Church (USA), and particularly the role of the standard exams in that process. Diana Barber, moderator of this special committee, will be present to share the preliminary findings of the committee and to receive feedback as they prepare to finalize their report to the next General Assembly in 2014.
There is something for everyone involved in presbyteries’ work with inquirers and candidates—and I have not even touched on the plenary sessions or topics that will be of interest to both CPM- and COM-types. So register now for the Healthy Ministry Conference (go to http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/big-tent/) and spread the word among your colleagues.
Today the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) announced modifications to its plan for increasing the opportunities provided to candidates for ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to take the standard ordination examinations. I have provided the full text of the PCC's announcement below, but first let me highlight the following points:
It is proverbially said that the oft-eventful weather patterns marking the transition from winter to spring cause the month of March “to come in like an lion, and go out like a lamb.” While it remains to be seen how quickly things will settle in the grass like a lamb, it is certainly the case that this month has been a roaring lion of activity in the area of preparation for ministry. So, this blog post shares some odds and ends about recent and upcoming developments.
Office of the General Assembly Reorganization. On March 6, the OGA staff was realigned ...
Last week readers elected by their presbyteries gathered together in Atlanta to evaluate standard ordination examinations. Even as they met in Atlanta, readers elected by presbyteries across the upper Midwest and Plains were also evaluating exams. What these readers shared in common was that all the exams they read and evaluations they wrote were managed through an online system. What distinguished them was that the Southern Region readers in Atlanta marked the end of a roughly 45-year practice of bringing people to central locations to perform this work, and the Midwest Region readers joined readers from the Northeast and Central ...
I have previously written in this blog about the PC(USA) initiative to begin 1,001 new worshiping communities in a ten-year period (for more about that mission emphasis, see http://www.pcusa.org/1001). Whenever I write or talk about “1001” particularly with our inquirers and candidates, they are usually simultaneously interested and also full of questions. Not surprisingly those questions are very pragmatic:
Like tens of millions of Christians around the world today, I stepped away from my usual midday routine to attend an Ash Wednesday service. At about the midpoint of the service I filed forward with the other congregants, and one of the liturgists—a colleague and friend in ministry whom I have known for almost two decades—dipped her finger in the oily ashes and as she traced the shape of the cross on my forehead repeated the solemn words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
I cannot hear those words any longer without also ...
The Office of Vocation is currently receiving applications for its fourth class of pastoral residents in the “For Such a Time As This” program. The commitment of all those involved in the program is to small church ministry that is “Growing Leaders, Growing Churches.”
Since 2009, there have been 22 pastors serving in their first calls with 26 congregations in ten different presbyteries. The residents serve in temporary pastoral relationships with two-year terms. Of those in the first class, virtually all continued as pastors with the congregations once that term was concluded. A similar pattern is anticipated as the second ...
I recently attended a meeting of colleagues from member communions of the National Council of Churches of Christ who work in support of professional church leadership, theological education, and support of candidacy for ordination to ministry. The focus of this year’s gathering was emerging trends in theological education.
One topic of discussion was the emergence of “MOOCs”—Massive Open Online Courses—that are now being offered by such prestigious educational institutions as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Literally tens of thousands of students participate in single courses taught by prominent members of the faculty, with much ...
A comment posted to my most recent blog raised a couple of interesting issues that go beyond what can be reasonably answered in the space of a comment response, so I offer here a few more statistical snapshots. The issues concerned the number of inquirers/candidates relative to open positions, and whether female candidates were taking longer to secure first calls than their male counterparts.
Inquirers/Candidates relative to Open Positions: The commenter noted that there are “four times as many candidates as there are total positions available.” Assuming that the commenter is using “candidate” in a more general sense ...
Like many folks in many lines of work, the approaching end of the year signals for me not only preparations for Christmas but drawing together a number of annual reports. So in the spirit of many publications’ “year in review” stories I present here some snapshots drawn from the Inquirers and Candidates Database at the close of 2012.