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.
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The first round of quarterly exams will be offered July 25 and 26. This expanded opportunity for candidates obviously brings with it an expanded need for ordination exam readers. Notifications were sent to all CPM moderators and presbytery stated clerks this morning with information from the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) about how the presbyteries will be asked to provide readers under the new schedule. Since interest about how this will work extends beyond just committee/commission moderators and stated clerks, I want to share some details of the plan.
Presbyteries will remain in the same pattern of six regions, and each region will continue to provide readers in the same “half” of the year. So, the Central, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Western Regions that previously dealt with exams written in late summer and evaluated in the fall will now read exams the first weeks of August and November. The two regions, Southern and Midwest, that previously handled exams written in winter and evaluated in early spring, will now read exams the first weeks of February and May.
A survey of readers from the past year found they were about equally divided between a preference for more readers in each reading period (and so fewer exams per reader overall), or having fewer readers but only being asked to read during one reading period each year (with the result of more exams per reader overall). So the PCC has decided to ask each presbytery to elect the same number of readers as last year, but the presbytery may decide how its readers will be used in the two reading periods for which it will be responsible. A presbytery may decide that all of its readers will read in both reading periods. Other presbyteries might divide their readers between their two reading periods (with each reader evaluating exams only in one period). Still other presbyteries may leave it to their readers to decide whether to read in one or both reading periods.
Hopefully this flexibility will make it easier for presbyteries to recruit readers, increase the likelihood that readers will fulfill their commitments made to the presbytery and the broader church, and provide sufficient readers in each reading period to make the process efficient and manageable.
The “User’s Guide” for this online reporting site has been updated to cover the reader reporting process and other recent changes. The updated user’s guide is available at:
Increasing the opportunities each year for candidates to take the senior ordination exams and substantially reducing the time until results are available promise to tremendously benefit both them and to their presbyteries. This benefit is only possible by the willingness of readers to provide this additional service.