The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry in 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 of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 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.”
The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will convene in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, June 30. As always, there are many items that rate high on the attention of both members of our churches and our broader society. In this post I want to point out just a few business items that may not be covered by one’s local newspaper but will likely be of interest both to those preparing for ministry as teaching elders in the PC(USA) and those who work with them in their discernment and preparation.
Since anyone can follow along online as the Assembly goes about its work by using PC-Biz, I will provide the committee and item number(s) for each issue so that they can be easily located on that website.
Ordination Examinations: One presbytery overture (07-07) and one recommendation arising from a referral from the last General Assembly (10-17 B1) ask for reviews of various aspects of the standard ordination examinations process. The Office of the General Assembly in a comment on 07-07 suggests that the Assembly consider responding to that recommendation by expanding a study of the overall process of preparation for ministry already planned for the second part of 2012. Recommendations with regard to both the exams and the overall process would be reported to the 221st Assembly (2014).
Special Committee on the Nature of the Church in the 21st Century: This report (16-07) will certainly receive attention within the PC(USA), but because of its size and number of recommendations it may be helpful to highlight some that could be of particular interest to those in the preparation for ministry process. The report calls for a task force to study a variety of issues related to bi-vocational ministry (Rec. 02), ranging from training to funding to compensation for those engaged in this form of ministry. There is a cluster of recommendations (Rec. 03a, d, e) asking that the Committee on Theological Education (COTE) look at how seminary courses are responding to changing cultural conditions and at representation issues among student bodies and faculties. Finally, the report asks for a study on how to address issues of educational debt for those newly ordained as teaching elders (Rec. 06).
Authoritative Interpretation Review: As discussed in the current edition of the Advisory Handbook on Preparation for Ministry, there were particular past AIs that were impacted when changes to the Form of Government in 2011 removed the constitutional language on which they were based. Two AIs related to the circumstances in which a presbytery might grant exceptions to the preparation requirements for ordination as a teaching elder (see Handbook, 49-51), and another as to when candidates might use the Church Leadership Connection in searching for a first call (Handbook, 45-46). The review committee is recommending that the AIs related to exceptions not be retained (08-Res Recommendation 2, items 15 and 16), and that the one related to negotiation for service be retained (08-Res GA Actions Retain, item 116).
There are a few other items probably of interest primarily to polity or process “wonks” (for example, see 07-20 and 07-23). Once the Assembly completes its work, I’ll post a quick update here reporting actions on the main items mentioned in this blog. Our prayers are with all the commissioners as they discern the Spirit’s leading in all matters before them.