Commissioned Pastor Process

Commissioned Pastor Process


Book of Order Section G-2.10 gives permission to Presbyteries to commission Ruling Elders for limited pastoral service as assigned by the Presbytery. It also specifies that the preparation and instruction for this service be determined by the Presbytery in a such a way that it is appropriate to the particular commission.

Process for Commissioning

Enrollment as an Inquirer

  1. An individual who is interested in pursuing commissioned ministry should first come under the care of his or her Session by becoming an Inquirer. All the requirements of G-2.0602 [1] regarding time of membership, work and worship in the congregation, and endorsement of the session apply to those who wish to pursue commissioning. Ordinarily an individual seeking commissioned shall have completed a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  2. Prior to meeting with the Session, the individual shall select a Minister of Word and Sacrament to serve as their supervisor throughout the preparation process. The supervisor may — but need not — be the pastor of their sponsoring congregation.
  3. Once the individual has been received under care by the Session, they shall appear before the Commission on Preparation for Ministry to be enrolled as an Inquirer, and the CPM shall follow the standard practice for receiving an Inquirer, including the assignment of a care team, receipt of books, etc.
  4. Once received by the CPM as an Inquirer, the individual shall notify the CPM (by way of the Chair, Vice-Chair, or Presbytery Staff Liaison) of their interest in serving in a commissioned pastor role. This request shall be forwarded to a joint COM/CPM team for its review.

COM/CPM Commissioned Pastor Task Force (PCTF)

  1. A team comprised of at least five individuals (2 from COM, 2 from CPM, and 1 staff person) shall meet with the individual.
  2. The CPTF shall meet with the individual for the following purposes
    • Understanding the Inquirer’s sense of call to commissioned ministry
    • To determine an appropriate requirements preparation and assessment for the Inquirer in the following areas:  Biblical Content & Exegesis, Worship & Sacraments, Theology, and Polity.
    • In addition to the four primary areas of preparation, the CPTF should also determine what form of supervised ministry experience is most appropriate for an individual seeking commissioning.
    • The CPTF has broad discretion in determining what the requirements will be for each Inquirer. Options include:
      1. Seminary Course Work
      2. Assigned reading
      3. Individual or small-group tutoring
      4. On-going participation in a ministry preparation process
  3. Once these requirements are determined, they shall be presented to the Inquirer. If the Inquirer agrees to them, this will become their “Commissioned Pastor Process”.

Commissioned Pastor Process

  1. Under the supervision of the CPM, the Inquirer shall complete the requirements as outlined in their specific CP Process and provide progress reports annually (by means of an annual consultation) to the CPM through their Care Team.
  2. The care team may ask others, both currently serving on CPM and beyond, to assist in their work with the Inquirer, in particular by reviewing materials designed to assess the Inquirer’s progress (example: papers, local exams, etc.)

Ready to Commission Process

  1. When the Inquirer has satisfied all the requirements contained in their Commissioned Pastor Process document, that Inquirer they shall appear before CPM and present a statement of faith.
  2. Prior to meeting with the Inquirer, the CPM shall be briefed regarding the individual’s sense of call and preparation process so the examination can be of appropriate depth and scope.
  3. If the CPM determines that the Inquirer has satisfactorily completed all the requirements of their Commissioned Pastor Process and meets the requirements of G-2.0607a, the CPM may determine that the individual is “Ready to Commission.”

Notes and Clarifications

By precedent, if a person has been commissioned once, they are eligible to serve in other ministry roles in a commissioned capacity. Because of the contextual nature of the preparation process, COM shall assess whether the prior preparation plus subsequent ministry experience is adequate preparation for a future commissioned pastor role.

In specific situations, it may be appropriate to permit an individual to be commissioned in renewable six-month intervals while the Commissioned Pastor Process is completed.

[1] To be enrolled as an inquirer, the applicant shall be a member of the sponsoring congregation, shall have been active in the work and worship of that congregation for at least six months, and shall have received the endorsement of the session of the sponsoring congregation. (G-2.0602, PCUSA Book of Order 2017-10 Edition)