CPM Guidelines & Resources

CPM Guidelines & Resources

In this list you will find guidance on the ordination process from start to finish in Pittsburgh Presbytery.

CPM Standards & Measures

CPM Standards & Measures

CPM Standards & Measures

CPM Standards & Measures

Adopted December 3, 2003

Standards

Field Education in a Supervised Ministry
Psychological Evaluation
Reports & Information from Seminarians
Mentor Relationships
Ongoing Worship & Involvement in a PCUSA Church
Clinical Pastoral Education
Seminary Attendance
Personal & Professional References

Measures

Statements of Faith (Candidacy & Certification)
CPM Questioning
Constitutional Questions
Moral, Ethical, & Nurturing Issues


Standards

Field Education in a Supervised Ministry

  1. Required of all inquirers and candidates.
  2. Home church cannot serve as sole field education experience.
  3. One field education experience must be different from home church in terms of type of church.
  4. One field education experience must be in a PC(USA) church.
  5. Care team must validate field education before it is undertaken.
  6. Care team must receive and review report from field education supervisor. Inquirer/candidate has responsibility for ensuring that report is sent to care team.
  7. Care team is encouraged to contact supervisor by telephone.

Psychological Evaluation

Required by all inquirers within the first 6 months of candidacy at an approved evaluation center.  Care team must review reports.


Reports & Information from Seminaries

  1. All inquirers and candidates must maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average.
  2. All inquirers must sign a release form permitting the CPM and its members and staff to obtain personal and academic information from any individuals or institution including their seminary for the duration of the ordination process.
  3. Care Team checks all transcripts for not only grades but course work.
  4. On an annual basis the CPM Chair and/or Vice Chair will review with Dean of Students at seminaries those students under CPM’s care.

Mentor Relationships

  1. Must meet with spiritual mentor at least 2 times a year.
  2. With regard to marriage mentors, they are strongly encouraged to meet at least 2 times a year.
  3. Care Team discusses this at annual consultation.

Ongoing Worship & Involvement in a PC(USA) Church

Required for all inquirers and candidates. Care Team discusses with person under their care at annual consultation.


Clinical Pastoral Education

  1. Encouraged but not required for all inquirers and candidates.
  2. CPM reserves the right to require a CPE experience on an individual, case by case basis.
  3. CPM receives reports from supervisor and contacts the supervisor for information. Care team is responsible for reviewing and contacting.

Seminary Attendance

  1. All inquirers and candidates must attend a seminary accredited and approved by the Association of Theological Schools in USA and Canada.
  2. If Inquirers or Candidates choose to attend a non-PC(USA) seminary, then they may be required to attend a PC(USA)seminary for coursework including, but not limited to, the following areas: Presbyterian polity; reformed theology; reformed worship and sacraments; Presbyterian confessions; and a course utilizing Biblical exegetical interpretation.
  3. All students under care of CPM, regardless of where they attend seminary, are required to complete the course work listed in the above paragraph.
  4. Future course work discussed with care team in an effort to ensure that the above courses are taken by all students.

Personal & Professional References

  1. Each inquirer must supply the names, addresses and telephone numbers of 2 personal and 2 work-related your supervisor) or academic references. Such references cannot include family members.
  2. All references must be contacted by care team within first 6 months of inquiry. Discussions should center on personal traits, character, work history, etc.

Measures

Statements of Faith for Both Candidacy & Certification

  1. Statements of faith should be reviewed in some form, email or personal meeting (preferable), with care team prior to appearing before CPM.
  2. All statements should demonstrate a reformed theological understanding and utilize clear and concise language as well as standard theological terminology. Statements should be no more than one page (one side) in length and no longer than 850 words with word count noted and lines numbered down the left side of the document. As a guideline, each statement should include, but not be limited by, a discussion of the following theological doctrines:
    • understanding of the triune God;
    • understanding of each person of the God-head;
    • understanding of the saving work of Jesus Christ;
    • understanding of the Church;
    • understanding of Scripture;
    • understanding of the Sacraments;
    • understanding of eschatology;
    • understanding of humanity and sin
  3. In reviewing statements of faith at the candidacy phase, consideration is taken into account regarding course work taken up to that point (including course work still to be taken). However, whatever the level of courses taken by a particular individual, some statement of understanding (whatever the individual understands at that point in time) is still expected in regard to at least those theological doctrines listed in the above paragraph.

CPM Questioning

  1. Before a particular individual is questioned at any stage of the process but after they are introduced by the care team, entire CPM should BRIEFLY share their concerns and potential questions in an effort to streamline questioning.
  2. CPM reviews appropriate questioning at training session as well as guidance on parameters of reformed theological understanding as guided by scripture, confessions and other theological documents as distributed by CPM.
  3. The CPM will distribute to all members a Book of Confessions, The PC(USA) Study Catechism and other summary confessional materials. It is expected that all members will read and be familiar with these documents and materials.

Constitutional Questions

  1. Care team should review the constitutional questions with individual before they appear before CPM to be certified ready to receive a call (before their oral trials).
  2. One way to talk about these questions is to tell individuals: “Be prepared to discuss the ordination questions before CPM.” In addition, a good way to ask about these questions is as follows: “Which ordination question gives you pause or concern?”

Moral, Ethical & Nurturing Issues

  1. Care team should address in annual consultation sex, substance abuse and money. At some point in all annual consultations discussion should focus on this question: “Are there things concerning these issues (sex, substance abuse or money) that we should talk about?”
  2. Talk about higher standard to which clergy are held.
  3. Discuss with them how they “take care of themselves” physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  4. If married student, care team should attempt to offer to take them out for a meal together with the spouse at some point during the care process.
  5. Discuss with them the appropriate use of social media use.
PA Child Protection Laws

PA Child Protection Laws

PA Child Protection Laws

Pennsylvania’s Child Protection Laws

Revised July 16, 2015 by Carla Campbell, Stated Clerk

On July 1, 2015 Governor Wolf signed into law further revisions to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws, effective immediately. These changes clarify some provisions of the sweeping changes enacted effective January 1, 2015. The portions of the child protection statutes particularly applicable to churches are summarized below, with significant updates noted.

Background Checks & Clearances

Who Needs Them?
How to Obtain Clearances
Deadlines
Renewal Requirement for Clearances
Portability of Clearances
Record Keeping Requirements
Presumption of Good Faith and Criminal Liability

Mandatory Reporting

Who is a Mandated Reporter?
How to Make a Report

Mandatory Reporter Training Requirements for Child Care Workers
Resources


Background Checks & Clearances

A primary focus of this new legislation was “clarify and make more explicit” provisions regarding background checks and clearances for employees and adult volunteers who work with children. The goal especially is to strike a balance between protecting children and not making the background check requirements for volunteers so onerous that programs beneficial to children are adversely affected. Below is a summary of the clearance requirements and process.

Who Needs Them?

Adult employees 
Adults who in the course of their paid employment are responsible for the
welfare of a child direct contact” with cor who have “children are required to have:

Direct contact with children is defined as “the care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.” The revised statute now adds a definition of “routine interaction” as “[r]egular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities.” Under this definition, administrative staff may not be included, although custodial staff members who work during hours when children occupy a building likely would be. Many churches are opting to err on the side of caution and have all employees who are present when children are in the building obtain the clearances.

Minor Employees
Minors between the ages of 14 and 17 who are responsible for the welfare of a child or who have direct contact with children as defined above must have the Pennsylvania criminal history record check and child abuse clearances.

Unlike adult employees, however, minor employees need not have the federal criminal history check if:

  • they have been residents of Pennsylvania for the entire ten-year period prior to their employment; or
  • they have previously received the federal criminal history background check and supply a copy to the employer; AND,
  • the minor’s parent or legal guardian swears or affirms in writing that the individual is not disqualified from service under the statute or has not been convicted of an offense listed in or similar to those listed in the statute under the law or former law of the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction, including foreign nations.

Adult Volunteers
All adults applying for or holding an unpaid position who are responsible for the child’s welfare or who have “direct volunteer contact with children” must obtain the same clearances as adult employees, except that the federal criminal history background check is not required if the volunteer:

  • they have been residents of Pennsylvania for the entire ten-year period prior to their employment; or
  • they have previously received the federal criminal history background check and supply a copy to the employer; AND,
  • the prospective volunteer swears or affirms in writing that the individual is not disqualified from service under the statute or has not been convicted of an offense listed in or similar to those listed in the statute under the law or former law of the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction, including foreign nations.

The new legislation provides for permanent waiver of the fees for the Pennsylvania criminal history record check and child abuse clearance for  volunteers for one set of clearances every 57 months. The fees associated with the federal criminal history background check, if required, have not been waived.

Provisional clearances are available for non-resident volunteers who may serve as volunteers within the Commonwealth for up to a total of 30 days in one calendar year provided that the volunteer is in compliance with the clearance standards of the jurisdiction where the volunteer is domiciled and provides documentation of this compliance to the person responsible for selection of volunteers.

Temporary Employment of Foreign Nationals
An individual holding a non-immigrant Visa commonly called a J-1 Visa is not required to submit any of the clearances or background checks provided that all of the following apply:

    • the individual is applying for or holds a paid position for a period of 90 days
      or less within one calendar year; and,
    • the individual has not been employed previously within the Commonwealth, any other state, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico; and,
    • the individual swears or affirms in writing that he or she is not disqualified from service under the statute or has not been convicted of an offense listed in or similar to those listed in the statute under the law or former law of the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction, including foreign nations.

How to Obtain Clearances?

A brief explanation of how to obtain the required clearances, with links to the websites whenever possible, follows. Please note that that sharp increase in the number of applicants for these clearances and background checks has slowed the processing time.

Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Record Information

The most-expedient way to obtain this certification is to apply online, using a credit card to pay the fee, if applicable.
In order to apply on paper, download the application form on the Criminal History  page of the Keep Kids Safe site.  Note that the fee must be paid via certified check or money order and that the estimated time for return is longer.

Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance
You must also apply online for the Child Abuse History Clearance. Online applicants may pay the required fee, if applicable, via credit card. Paper applications are permitted, but payment must be made by check or money order. Download the form from the Keep Kids Safe site.   Keep in mind that paper application return times are longer.  Note that the application for this clearance requires listing all addresses where the applicant has resided since 1975 and the names and current ages of all household members since 1975.

Agencies and businesses can pay for child abuse history clearances by registering for a Business Partner user account using the  Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS) self-service portal. The business account will allow organizations to purchase Child Abuse clearance payment codes to be distributed to applicants or employees. Individual applicants or employees will then go onto the Child Welfare Portal to apply for the clearance using the code. The pre-purchased codes can only be used once and allows the organization to have access to the applicant’s Child Abuse clearance results once those results are processed.

Federal Criminal History Background Check
Please visit the criminal history page of the Keep Kids Safe site for instructions on obtaining the federal background check. Prior to having fingerprints taken, an applicant must first make an appointment online at IDentoGo. Search the site for the location closest to you to check hours of operation, available appointment times, and contact information for that location.

The website also provides information for applicants whose prints cannot be taken electronically or those presently located out of state who must have ink cards made and submitted.


Deadlines

New volunteers and employees must have the clearances prior to the start of their employment or volunteer activity.

A current employee who previously was not required to obtain clearances, but now is must have them, must comply by December 31, 2015. A current volunteer who previously was not required to have the clearances, but who was approved as a volunteer prior to July 1, 2015, must comply by July 1, 2016.

Any employee or volunteer who has current clearances (referred to as certifications in the statute) issued prior to July 1, 2015 must obtain new clearances within 60 months from the date of the person’s oldest certification, or if their certifications are older than 60 months, by July 1, 2016.


Renewal Requirement for Clearances

Under the revised statute, all clearances must be renewed every 60 months. This is an increase from the 36-month time period in the earlier statute.


Portability of Clearances

Those who obtain clearances as an employee may use them to volunteer with another agency or organization, however, clearances obtained for volunteering may not be used for employment. Clearances obtained to volunteer with one organization may be used to volunteer with another.

An employee who has obtained clearances may transfer those clearances to another subsidiary or branch established and supervised by the same organization. Thus, an employee who obtains clearances to work as a paid employee in a church’s child care center may transfer those clearances to work in its nursery school.

An employee with current clearances may use them to apply for or serve with a new employer provided that the employee swears or affirms in writing that he or she has not been disqualified from employment under this statute or has not been convicted of an offense listed in or similar to those listed in the statute under the law or former law of the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction, including foreign nations.


Record Keeping Requirements

The employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions or the acceptance of individuals to serve in any capacity, including volunteers, must require a new employee or volunteer to produce the original documents prior to service and must maintain copies of the documents for all employees and volunteers as they obtain clearances or renewals. These documents are to be kept strictly confidential.


Presumption of Good Faith and Criminal Liability

The revised statute explicitly provides that for purposes of criminal liability, the “employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for the selection of volunteers” is presumed to have acted in good faith when identifying individuals who are required to submit background checks and clearances and maintaining records. However, if such a person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he or she “intentionally fails to require” the submission of the required background checks and clearances prior to approving that person as an employee or volunteer.


Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

Who is a Mandated Reporter?

Another important change relevant to churches is the addition of clergy, staff, and volunteers who regularly work with children to those who must report suspected child abuse under penalty of law. The statute also extends to those “supervised or managed” by mandatory reporters listed in the statute “who has direct contact with children in the course of employment. The revisions effective July 1, 2015 specifically provide that “administrative and support personnel” are not mandatory reporters unless the individual has “direct contact with children.” Independent contractors are specifically included within definition of mandated reporters as well. Mandatory reporting requirements only apply to adults, not minor employees or volunteers. A discussion of “frequently asked questions” about the mandatory reporting provision follows.


How to Make a Report?

Reports must be made directly by the person who suspects that abuse has,occurred. It is no longer sufficient to merely report suspicion of abuse to a supervisor, however, only one report per institution is necessary. Reports may be made electronically at http://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home or by calling 1-800-932-0313. After making the report, a mandatory reporter must notify the person in charge of the church or agency. If a report is made by telephone, the reporter must file an electronic or written report within 48 hours of making the oral report. The written report, form CY-47, is sent to the Children and Youth office in the county where the alleged abuse will be investigated. The reporter should keep a copy of the written form CY-47 or of the email confirmation of an electronic report for his or her own
records in a separate confidential file. Please note that those seeking to report abuse have encountered significant delays during the first six months of the broadened statute’s effectiveness. If you have any concern that a child is in danger and you are unable to make an immediate report, please dial 911.


Mandatory Reporter Training Requirements for Child Care Workers

A final change is the requirement for training in child abuse recognition and reporting for child care workers in all state-licensed facilities. Employees of such facilities must have had three hours of training no later than June 30, 2015. Three hours of training is required every five years thereafter. New employees must have three hours of training within 90 days of hire.


Resources

For further information, forms, and links, the most comprehensive source is www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov. Two sets of frequently asked questions regarding both employee and volunteer clearance requirements prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services are on the CPM Guidelines & Resources page.

First Steps For Applying to Enroll As An Inquirer

First Steps For Applying to Enroll As An Inquirer

First Steps For Applying to Enroll As An Inquirer

Applying to Become an Inquirer

According to the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the purpose of the Inquiry process is as follows (G2.0602):

The purpose of the inquiry phase is to provide an opportunity for the church and those who believe themselves called to ordered ministry as teaching elders to explore that call together so that the presbytery can make an informed decision about the inquirer’s suitability for ordered ministry.

In Pittsburgh Presbytery, enrolling as an Inquirer is the first step you will take toward becoming an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament or a Commissioned Pastor. If you are seeking to enroll as an Inquirer, following are the steps you need to take.

  1. Tell your pastor and/or clerk of session at your church of membership.
  2. If you do not already have the three standard clearances (child abuse, criminal, and FBI) you should begin working on them immediately. Instructions may be found on the presbytery website. The policy of Pittsburgh Presbytery forbids the enrollment of any individual until they have submitted their completed *clearances.
  3. Go to the CPM Forms  page and complete Forms 1A, 1B, and 1C. All three forms will need to be submitted to your session and ultimately to the presbytery.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember to select the “Print Form” button before the “Submit” button in order to print to a PDF writer and save on your computer. Form 1C is a writable PDF worksheet you will need to complete, save to your computer, and submit via email to Pittsburgh Presbytery staff liaisons for CPM.
  4. Also notify the presbytery staff liaisons for CPM at the presbytery office of your intent to enroll as an Inquirer. They are the two staff members who work directly with CPM and are available to answer any questions you may have.
  5. In order to endorse you as an Inquirer, your session will need to have an orientation conducted by a team member serving on the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (CPM). It is the responsibility of your pastor to request this visit if one has not been done in the last three years. While not directly your responsibility, you need to be aware this visit must occur before you can be enrolled. All the more reason to tell your pastor as early as you can!
  6. After you meet with the session and are endorsed, Forms 1D and 2B must be completed by a representative of the session.
  7. Forms 1A, 1B, 1D, and 2B will be automatically submitted to the presbytery when they are completed online. Form 1C and your three clearances must be emailed to presbytery staff liaisons for CPM.
  8. The next step will be to meet with a CPM commissioner who will conduct a Pre-Care Consultation with you. This will be arranged by you directly once you receive notification from the presbytery office. However, before this can take place, all of your forms and clearances must be submitted.
  9. The last step is to meet with the CPM of Pittsburgh Presbytery. You will receive specific instructions and docket time one week prior to the CPM meeting from the presbytery office.

*The only exception to this rule is when the individual is, for whatever reason, having difficulty completing the FBI Fingerprinting.