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.) completed its work on Saturday morning, July 7. It will likely be remembered both for the things that happened at the Assembly and for actions the commissioners did not take. A full-wrap is available on the church website (click here), and all the details are on PC-Biz. As previously promised, here is an update on the business items highlighted in my previous blog.
Ordination Examinations: By unanimous consent the Assembly approved the suggestion from the Office of the General Assembly to incorporate a study of the standard ordination examinations into a planned review of the overall process for preparing pastoral leaders for the Presbyterian Church (USA) in the 21st century. The exams will receive specific attention with regard to the structures and processes for their development, all within the broader context the role of such assessments within the overall process. Recommendations will be reported to the 221st General Assembly (2014).
Special Committee on the Nature of the Church in the 21st Century: The Assembly chose not to create a task force to study issues related to bi-vocational ministry. It instead directed the Presbyterian Mission Agency (formerly GAMC) “to make recommendations regarding vocational development and training; fundraising, support, and interpretation of bi-vocational ministry within church councils; increasing the utilization of the Church Leadership Connection to connect churches and teaching elders called to bi-vocational ministry; and addressing issues surrounding the compensation and provision for benefits to support this important form of ministry” (Rec. 2). The cluster of recommendations (Rec. 03a, d, e) asking the Committee on Theological Education (COTE) to look at how seminary courses are responding to changing cultural conditions and at representation issues among student bodies and faculties were approved, as was the request that the Office of Vocation study how to address issues of educational debt for those newly ordained as teaching elders (Rec. 06e).
Authoritative Interpretation Review: The report of the Special Committee on Authoritative Interpretations was approved by the General Assembly. We expect that by mid-August 2012 we will have updated the sections in the Advisory Handbook on Preparation for Ministry 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 when candidates may use the Church Leadership Connection in searching for a first call (Handbook, 45-46). In brief, there is a potential for broadening the circumstances where exceptions may be considered by presbyteries, but the requirements that must be met before permission to “negotiate for service” prior to “final assessment” (G-2.0607) remain unchanged from the Assembly action in 2010.
In response to discussions in a meeting of persons involved in overseeing preparation for ministry about questions that may be asked and considered given the change in ordination standards approved by the presbyteries in 2011 (see several items that were before the Church Orders and Ministry committee ), we will also be adding a section to the Advisory Handbook around that topic. We will publicize the release of the updated Advisory Handbook through our website, Facebook page and this blog.
We continue in prayer for all the commissioners as they return home and carry out the important responsibility of interpreting the Assembly’s actions to their presbyteries and congregations.