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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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October 31, 2011

New "Advisory Handbook" Released

Handbook coverThe new Advisory Handbook on Preparation for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has now been released. It is a thorough revision of the previous edition in light of changes to the Book of Order in July of this year. In previous posts I have discussed the approach that was taken in the development of the new Advisory Handbook (see “More Flexible, Less Regulatory,” and “More Advisory, Less Handbook”). In this post I will provide information on how to access it and review what it makes available.

The Advisory Handbook is being made available in two formats: (a) the complete document as an Adobe Acrobat file (.pdf); and (b) as a series of separate “handout” files that cover individual topics, in most cases no more than two pages in length. These “handout” files are designed as quick reference pieces that can be quickly accessed and distributed for review in consultations or other meetings. At the time of the initial posting of this blog, only the complete PDF is available for download (click here to go directly to the download page). We expect the page with the links to the “handout” files to be posted sometime in the next week. All distribution will be by download from the PC(USA) website.

There are four major sections to the Advisory Handbook.

“Preparing for Ministry Today” is a brand new section that looks at the changing landscape of ministry and preparation for ministry in the second decade of the 21st century. It reviews trends in both congregational life and those who are preparing for ministry, and reviews the theological principles that are the foundation of the process for preparing for a call as a teaching elder within the PC(USA). This section (about 20 pages in length), will only be available as a separate download as a single PDF file.

“Walking the Road Together” presents a review of each paragraph of the 2011-2013 Book of Order related to preparation for ministry and ordination as a teaching elder (G-2.06 and G-2.07). Along with discussion of key provisions within these sections of the Form of Government, there are also sidebar “Questions for Reflection” that encourage all those engaged in the process to consider how these provisions might be lived out in their particular contexts within the broader mission of God. Generally each paragraph of the Book of Order will have its own “handout” versions (though some are further sub-divided and a few are combined). These handouts will be provided in both PDF and Microsoft Word (.doc) file formats to facilitate presbyteries in using information they find especially helpful in compiling their specific policies and procedures manuals.

“Roles and Responsibilities of Participants” is the third major section of the Advisory Handbook. It is divided into subsections designed specifically for inquirers and candidates, sessions, presbyteries, theological institutions, and the synods and General Assembly. The “handout” files from this section will generally be divided into particular topics of concern to the different participants, and will again be available in both Word and PDF formats. Discussions are accompanied by “Follow Through” sidebars suggesting questions participants will need to explore with their partners in the process, and “FAQ” (‘frequently asked questions’) responses. All participants are reminded to use these materials with continued reference to the relevant sections of the Book of Order, materials in the second section of the Advisory Handbook, and the presbytery’s own procedures manual.

“Related Issues and Resources” conclude the Advisory Handbook. In their electronic formats, these materials provide links that connect directly to various training and other resources available on the web. There is also a text version of an online training resource dealing with “Alternative Assessment of Competency” related to the standard ordination examinations.

Take a look at the new Advisory Handbook and share your thoughts. One of the great benefits of the online distribution model is that allows for much simpler expansion and revision. We are especially interested in suggestions and materials that can be used to expand the “Resources” section.

Categories: Ordination Process

Tags: handbook, ministry context, ordination process, preparation for ministry