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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.”

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July 13, 2012

220th GA Wrap-Up

Logo of the 220th General Assembly PC(USA)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 [07]), 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.

Categories: Ministry Context, Ordination Exams, Ordination Process

June 27, 2012

220th GA Preview

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 ...

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June 21, 2012

The Public is Private, Removed

From several comments submitted shortly after I earlier this evening published a follow-on piece related to the June 10 post, "The Public is Private," it is clear that it is in the best interest of all concerned to remove both the original post and the follow-on piece.

At a future point it will be useful to take up issues of the relation of public and private personas, of boundaries in self-disclosure, and the role of social media in these regards in our online world. But those points will need to be discussed in the absence of any particular case.

The ...

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May 31, 2012

A Next Step

The Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) is currently conducting its Annual Meeting. During its opening business session, the PCC considered a number of issues related to moving the exams to an online system. There have been many reasons why the PCC began this effort more than five years ago, but from the very beginning a primary one is that people now simply expect to have the advantages made possible by technological advancement.

At its meeting last year, the PCC took one step that was not directly related to online administration of the examinations themselves but that definitely ...

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May 16, 2012

The Church Isn't Recession-Proof

A primary interest of this blog is the changing social context of ministry in the 21st century. A facet of that social context that has been “front and center” for the past several years has been the economy. As we think about the realities of moving into professional church leadership ministries, it is important to remember that while the need for ministry only increases during periods of economic hardship and displacement the church as an institution is subject to the same economic pressures as the rest of society. The church, after all, is the community of God’s people ...

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