The General Assembly special committee tasked with examining the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s process for preparing ministers, including ordination exams, has released its interim report (PDF).

Now it would like the church at-large to weigh in, offering up thoughts and suggestions the committee can use to perfect the draft recommendations before submitting them to the 221st General Assembly (2014) next summer in Detroit. The final report must be completed by Feb. 14, 2014.

“The committee has worked in earnest since December 2012 and has done its best to respond to the issues it was charged with examining,” said Diana Barber, moderator of the Special Committee to Review the Preparation for Ministry Process and Standard Ordination Exams. “At this stage we would encourage all who can to review our report and offer guidance.”

The committee’s recommendations, which are available in their entirety online (PDF), fall into three categories: those related to standard ordination exams, those related to the preparation process, and those related to constitutional amendments. The recommendations include that:

  • Standard Ordination Exams be kept as one of the ways of determining a candidate’s readiness for ministry as a Teaching Elder,
  • The Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) – the oversight body for exams – develop ways to broaden the format of standard ordination exams beyond time-limited essays, possibly integrating oral presentations,
  • Presbyteries be encouraged to broaden the pool of exam readers to be more diverse and to include racial/ethnic persons; and that the General Assembly Nominating Committee increase its racial/ethnic nominees to the PCC,
  • The PCC include more culturally diverse resources and references in what it provides to exam readers,
  • Presbyteries use the flexibility provided by the Form of Government to respond to unique circumstances of inquirers and candidates, especially those from immigrant and underserved communities,
  • Mid-Council Ministries in the Office of the General Assembly make available electronically models of how presbyteries are responding to issues related to preparing and equipping persons for ministry as a Teaching Elder,
  • Mid-Council Ministries develop a list of resource persons for cases where assistance with cultural proficiency is needed in the discernment and preparation process for service as a Teaching Elder,
  • General Assembly review programs and procedures used by presbyteries to provide pastoral leadership to congregations other than the process for preparing Teaching Elders.

The interim report also includes possible amendments to two paragraphs in the Form of Government related to implementing the recommendations regarding standard ordination exams and the preparation process.

Comments on the committee’s interim report should be emailed by Jan. 10, 2014 to Tim Cargal at

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