The Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is launching a new online training resource that planners hope will take ministry and leadership preparation to the next level. Equip.pcusa.org is officially open now, offering resources for ruling elders, upcoming ministers, and mid council leaders. It is part of a long-range plan set in motion by the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA).
“This is one aspect of the Stated Clerk’s broader leadership training initiative that will include online resources, coordination with conferences, and other training support that the church provides,” said the Reverend Tim Cargal, manager of Ministry Preparation and Support with the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly. “The Stated Clerk’s goal is that all the agencies will see this as a valuable way to get training materials out.”
Cargal says the online piece, equip.pcusa.org, is one phase, adding that there will be multiple components over time. Users will be able to create their own accounts, and the site will host three types of resources.
“In the self-enrollment category, there is a set of resources for ruling elders which provides a searchable archive of materials that have been produced over the last five years,” Cargal said. “Those resources will be available in separate archives in English, Spanish, and Korean. When you go to enroll, you can enroll in any of the archives.” Other available resources help inquirers and candidates prepare for Bible content and senior ordination exams in the areas of exegesis, polity, theology, and worship.
Another group resources will be developed with limited enrollments. At program launch, the only offering in this category is one for mid council leaders. Individuals serving in those roles can request an enrollment “key” from Office of the General Assembly staff that will enable them to access these materials.
The third type, Cargal says, will be closed resources. These types of training materials will be made available only to specific persons. Current examples in this category are courses for training ordination exam readers and orientation materials for some specific tasks of mid council stated clerks.
“This effort builds upon the website that has been used with restricted access training of ordination exam readers for the last seven years and incorporates things we’ve learned about providing online training support,” he said. “There are several other resources already in development, and we are exploring ways to coordinate this online training support with in-person conferences and other events that the church is offering.” Cargal says as new resources are made available, they will be announced on the EQUIP site and other channels of church communication.
When Nelson became Stated Clerk in 2016, one of his priorities was to find a means of providing training resources that reflect the way people look for training and support in the current context.
“What the clerk hopes to do is to think about providing leadership training for the church that reflects all of the ways people go about trying to get information and training in the 21st century,” said Cargal. “It is hoped that this will eventually become a place from which you can reach the broad range of training and support from all of the agencies of the church.”
Cargal says leadership training in the 21st century cannot choose between addressing the technical or adaptive; it must address both.