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About this blog

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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March 19, 2014

Quarterly Senior Ordination Exams to begin in July

Online Exams LogoIn May of 2013, the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) announced its plan to move to quarterly administration of the “senior” ordination examinations beginning in the second half of 2014. They also announced at that time that there were some changes to the Bible Exegesis, Church Polity, Theological Competence, and Worship and Sacraments exams that would be necessary to accommodate the more frequent offerings. In order to avoid any confusion regarding the 2013-14 program year exams, they held off announcing those related changes. Now that the results of the Spring 2014 exams have been released, it is time to fully unveil the new exam models.

The pages on the denominational website related to the exams ( have been updated, and revisions to other resources (including the exams handbook) are in the works. In the meantime, here are the five most important things to know about the new exams and their scheduling:

There are, of course, details related to each of these changes that candidates will need to know (such as how start times will work for the Theology, Worship and Polity exams since there will not be a proctor). That information is on the updated webpages and is being integrated into updated editions of the exams handbook and other training materials.

Also, be aware that the offerings of the Bible Content Examination (BCE) remain unchanged. It will continue to be offered twice a year (as it has been since 2009), on the Friday before Labor Day and the first Friday of February.

This increased availability of the senior ordination examinations answers a significant concern of both candidates and presbyteries regarding those who may be delayed in the process by a need to repeat an examination area. It is made possible by the move of the exams to a totally online administrative process. I will be publicizing the release of other updated resources as they become available.

Categories: Ordination Exams, Ordination Process

July 19, 2013

Exam Resources Updates

In just over month we will enter the second year of fully online ordination examinations. We have learned a lot in this first year, both about how candidates and readers prepare themselves for the online exam process and how they use the system. In response to feedback we have received we have continued to make changes and additions both to our resources and the online exam programming. Today we are formally releasing two updated resources incorporating these changes. In the examinations section of the Preparation for Ministry portion of the denominational website ( we have added ...

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June 6, 2013

"Basic Training" and More at Big Tent

As I work with presbyteries across the church one of the questions I am often asked is about training opportunities to support preparation for ministry committee leaders and members. Well, this year will mark the fifth biennial Healthy Ministry Conference, the primary national training event in this area. It is part of Big Tent that will be held in Louisville, Kentucky from August 1-3. The Healthy Ministry Conference addresses a broad range of issues related to mid council work with candidates, teaching elders and congregations, so in this blog I want to highlight some of the workshops that focus on ...

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May 23, 2013

Revised Plan for Expanding Exam Opportunities

Today the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) announced modifications to its plan for increasing the opportunities provided to candidates for ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to take the standard ordination examinations. I have provided the full text of the PCC's announcement below, but first let me highlight the following points: There will be NO changes in the administration of the exams for August 2013 and January 2014. The online exam process for taking exams will be exactly as it was for the past year. The plan announced in 2011 for moving toward "flexible" exam dates ...

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March 29, 2013

Gathering Odds and Ends

It is proverbially said that the oft-eventful weather patterns marking the transition from winter to spring cause the month of March “to come in like an lion, and go out like a lamb.” While it remains to be seen how quickly things will settle in the grass like a lamb, it is certainly the case that this month has been a roaring lion of activity in the area of preparation for ministry. So, this blog post shares some odds and ends about recent and upcoming developments. Office of the General Assembly Reorganization. On March 6, the OGA staff was ...

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