Ordination Process In Pittsburgh Presbytery
Ordination Process in Pittsburgh Presbytery (9/6/2019)
(Based on Book of Order G-2.06 – Ordination in the PCUSA)
Phase 1: Applicant to Inquirer
Phase 2: Inquirer to Candidate
Phase 3: Candidate to Certified Ready (To Receive a Call)
Phase 4: Certified Ready to Ordination
- All required forms are available online on the CPM Forms page.
- During all phases of the care process, a student CANNOT move to the next step without first contacting their Care Team.
- The Care Team is responsible for submitting all requests made to the commission on behalf of the student.
- IF AN INQUIRER/CANDIDATE IS OUT OF CONTACT WITH THEIR CARE TEAM FOR TWO OR MORE YEARS, THEY WILL BE REMOVED FROM THE ORDINATION PROCESS.
- The following steps represent only positive actions. At various points, negative actions or voluntary withdrawal will terminate the process.
Phase 1: Applicant to Inquirer
- A person desiring to become an Inquirer talks with pastor/session about their desire to explore the personal implications of becoming a minister. NOTE: The individual must be a member of the sponsoring congregation for at least 3 months and active in the work and worship of that congregation for at least 6 months (G.2.0602).
- The pastor/session of the sponsoring congregation contacts the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) for orientation to the process used in Pittsburgh Presbytery if it has been more than three years since the last orientation. A CPM representative meets with the session.
- The person desiring to become an Inquirer submits completed Form 1A, 1B, & 1C which can be found on the CPM Forms page or the Presbyterian Church (USA) website, or you can contact the CPM if the applicant has no computer access. At this point, the Applicant should begin maintaining a file containing copies of all documents they submit as well as all documents received during the ordination process.
- All child abuse (molestation, rape, or endangerment), criminal, and federal criminal history clearances/records required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including FBI fingerprinting regardless of whether the applicant has been a resident of the Commonwealth for the previous ten years, must be received prior to enrollment as an Inquirer into the care process as per the Child & Youth Protection Policy of Pittsburgh Presbytery (approved by the Executive Committee on April 18, 2017). The CPM will reimburse Applicants in full for any such services as is required upon receiving proof of payment and successful enrollment as an Inquirer. If the child abuse (molestation, rape or endangerment), criminal, and federal criminal history clearances/records reveal the Applicant has a documented occurrence, the Applicant will not be enrolled in the care process. For as long as the participant is enrolled in the process, these clearances must be in compliance with mandated time limitations; any renewal fees are the responsibility of the participant. Detailed information, instructions, and links to obtain clearances can be found on the CPM Guidelines & Resources page.
- Session interviews Applicant and shall make a recommendation to Pittsburgh Presbytery. If the session votes favorably, it assigns a liaison elder, executes, signs, and forwards Form 1D and Form 2B to the CPM at least two weeks before the CPM meeting.
- Upon receipt of Form 1 (all parts) and Form 2B, CPM assigns a commissioner, who meets with the Applicant for a Pre-Care Consultation to review forms, to give an overview of the process, and to explore the Applicant’s sense of call. The commissioner then submits Form 2A to make an official report of the pre-care consultation.
- Applicant, with liaison elder, meets with CPM. Liaison elder speaks about the action the session took concerning the Applicant. CPM interviews Applicant. If CPM votes favorably to enroll the applicant, this action is reported to Pittsburgh Presbytery. Inquirers are gifted by the CPM with the following: Presbyterian Questions/Presbyterian Answers by Donald K. McKim, Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers by Joan Gray and Joyce Tucker, and current Book of Order. Additionally, a copy of the Standards of Ethical Conduct of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Acknowledgement of Receipt form are given to Inquirer; the form is signed by the Inquirer and returned immediately. A Care Team is assigned to the Inquirer, Form 2B is signed by the chair of CPM and distributed. A permanent file is started at Pittsburgh Presbytery which will include all forms, reports, exams, transcripts, correspondence, and other pertinent documentation.
Congratulations! You are now enrolled as an Inquirer. The two-year time requirement of G-2.0602 begins at this time. The inquiry and candidacy phases shall continue for a period of no less than two years, including at least one year as a Candidate.
Phase 2: Inquirer to Candidate
- The Care Team shall meet with the Inquirer for an Initial Consultation within the first 90 days after coming under care and contact the person’s references to discuss personal traits, character, work history, etc.
- Inquirer is required to send copies of undergraduate college and seminary transcripts (the latter submitted annually until successfully earning Master of Divinity or Master of Divinity equivalent) and Field Education Reports to CPM (G-2.0604).
- Unless otherwise granted an explicit exception, the Inquirer must successfully complete the Bible Content Examination before moving to Candidacy. Approval is not required from CPM. The Bible Content Examination is offered twice a year: the first Friday in February at 10:00 AM / registration deadline preceding December 31 and the Friday before Labor Day at 10:00 AM / registration deadline proceeding July 31. Inquirer executes the online application and submits to the Presbyterian Church (USA) office in Louisville along with fee. CPM will reimburse Inquirer for the first time the exam is taken upon receiving proof of payment. Re-takes are at the expense of the Inquirer. Information about all Ordination Exams, including the schedule, descriptions, registrations, and Exam Handbook are available our CPM Forms page as well as the PC(USA) site.
- Inquirer selects a spiritual mentor and informs CPM of the person’s name, address, email, and telephone number. If the Inquirer is married, a mentoring couple is also selected and CPM is informed of the couple’s name, address, email, and telephone number. Inquirers and Candidates must meet with spiritual mentor at least 2 times a year. It is strongly recommended that a meeting with marriage mentors be held at least 2 times a year. Care Team will discuss this at each Annual Consultation.
- Inquirer is required to complete an Entering the Ministry Assessment at an approved career development center and release the results to CPM (see Release of Entering the Ministry Assessment Form on the CPM Forms page) within six months of being enrolled as an Inquirer. The cost will be covered as follows: 40% paid by CPM, 40% paid by session, and 20% paid by Inquirer. CPM sends a copy of the assessment to the Inquirer’s Care Team for their review and places original in the permanent file of the Inquirer. Care Team will discuss the assessment with the Inquirer at the Annual Consultation or at a separate time.
- Additionally, the Inquirer will participate in Ministry Assessment (MA) Part I: Inventory for Inquirers conducted by the Care Team within 12 months of being enrolled as an Inquirer; the Care Team will initiate scheduling this assessment with the Inquirer. This assessment can be completed either as part of an Initial Consultation or an Annual Consultation.
- Annual Consultations are to be held throughout the Inquirer and Candidate phases (G-2.0605).
- The Inquirer completes Pre-Interview Annual Consultation Report (Form 3) and electronically forwards to the Care Team one week prior to the scheduled consultation.
- The Care Team meets with the Inquirer and reports to CPM for approval using Form 4. All Annual
Consultations become part of permanent file.
- At each Annual Consultation, the Care Team will discuss the following: sex, substance abuse, money, higher standard to which clergy are held, and how they take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Worship and involvement at a PC(USA) church are required and will be discussed at each Annual Consultation.
- NOTE: On an annual basis, the CPM Chair, Vice Chair, and/or Staff Liaison will review with Dean of Students at seminaries those students under care. All Inquirers and Candidates must maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average.
- The Care Team, on behalf of the CPM, advises Inquirer of seminary courses or special training requirement (G-2.0605). All Inquirers and Candidates must attend a seminary accredited and approved by the Association of Theological Schools in USA and Canada. Those attending a non PC(USA) seminary may be required to attend a PC(USA) seminary for coursework including, but not limited to: Presbyterian polity; reformed theology; reformed worship and sacraments; Presbyterian confessions; and a course utilizing Biblical exegetical interpretation. All students, regardless of where they attend seminary, are required to complete the course work listed above.
- The Care Team, on behalf of the CPM, approves field work or internships (G-2.0605). Field education (FE) in a supervised ministry is required. One FE experience must be in a PC(USA) church and the home church cannot serve as sole FE experience. Therefore, one FE experience must be different from the home church in terms of the type of church. Inquirer/Candidate must enter into a FE experience before moving to Candidacy but not necessarily complete. Care Team must receive and review report from FE supervisor. Inquirer/Candidate has responsibility for ensuring the report is sent to Care Team. Care Team is encouraged to contact supervisor by telephone.
- Additionally, the Inquirer will participate in the Ministry Assessment (MA) Part II: Pre-Candidacy Evaluation conducted by the Care Team following the completion of FE experience; the Care Team will initiate scheduling this assessment with the Inquirer either as part of an Annual Consultation or at another time.
- Inquirers and Candidates are encouraged (not required) to take Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPM reserves the right to require a CPE experience. Reports from the CPE supervisor are required and Care Team is responsible for reviewing the report and contacting the CPE supervisor.
- Inquirer and Care Team determine readiness to move from Inquiry Phase to Candidacy Phase. Inquirer completes Forms 5A and 5D from the CPM Forms page or contacts CPM if they have no computer access. If the Inquirer chooses to have a Candidacy Reception, they can also find a form for Planning Your Reception as a Candidate as a Minister of Word & Sacrament (optional) on the CPM forms page under the “Commission Planning” section.
- Inquirer writes responses to the six statements listed on Required Candidacy Questions & Personal Statement of Faith. IMPORTANT NOTE: The response to #6, “A statement of personal faith which incorporates an understanding of the Reformed tradition,” and must:
- be no longer than 850 words with word count noted at the end of the document and lines numbered down the left side of the page
- include a discussion demonstrating an understanding of: the triune God; each person of the God-head; the saving work of Jesus Christ; the Church; scripture; sacraments; eschatology; humanity and sin. This Statement of Faith is to be reviewed by the Care Team prior to making a request to move to Candidacy.
- Once the Statement is reviewed and approved by the Care Team, the responses to the six statements, the Statement of Faith and, if doing an optional reception, also a completed copy of Planning Your Reception as a Minister of Word & Sacrament found on CPM Forms page under the “Commission Planning” section) are sent to the sponsoring session and pastor.
- Session interviews Inquirer then executes, signs, and forwards Form 5B to the CPM with a recommendation. Executed forms must be electronically received by the CPM two weeks prior to the CPM meeting. If the session intends to have a reception service for the new Candidate, the proposed date for that event must be included with these forms.
- Care Team informs CPM that the Inquirer desires and is ready to move to the Candidacy Phase. The Inquirer, accompanied by liaison elder, is examined by CPM. If CPM votes favorably to advance the Inquirer to Candidate, Form 5D is signed by the chair of CPM and distributed and CPM introduces Candidate to Pittsburgh Presbytery on the floor of the presbytery meeting.
- Pittsburgh Presbytery is permitted to ask the Inquirer questions as it relates to his/her Christian faith, forms of Christian service undertaken, and motives for seeking the ministry; theological questions are not in order at this time.
- The Candidate may choose to have a service of reception. Such services are optional and may be held at either the presbytery meeting or at the home church of the Candidate. If a service of reception is held in the home congregation, the commission reports reception of Candidate has been properly held to Stated Clerk of Pittsburgh Presbytery.
Phase 3: Candidate to Certified Ready (To Receive a Call)
- Care Team continues to hold Annual Consultations with Candidate (including those Certified Ready) (G-2.0605).
- The Candidate must seek approval and permission from the Care Team (if time frame of G-2.0602 is satisfied), to take the Senior Ordination Examinations. The Care Team will report granted permissions to the chair and the office of CPM. CPM recommends all four exams be taken at the same time but it is not a requirement. The Senior Ordination Examinations are offered three times a year: at the end of January, July, and October with registration deadlines on the last day of the month preceding administration. The specific dates for the program year are available on the PC(USA) website. Candidate executes the online application and submits to the Presbyterian Church (USA) office in Louisville along with payment. CPM will reimburse Candidate for the first time the examinations are taken upon receiving proof of payment. Re-takes are at the expense of the Candidate. Information about all Ordination Exams, including the schedule, descriptions, registrations, and Exam Handbook are available our CPM Forms page as well as the PC(USA) site.
- NOTE: Ordination examinations may be taken a maximum of three times. A third failure of any ordination examination, including, Bible Exegesis, Church Polity, Worship & Sacraments, and Theological Competence, will result in removal from the care process.
- A Candidate who has completed two full years of theological education or its equivalent, who has had an Annual Consultation within the previous year, and has successfully completed all ordination examinations may request permission to be Certified Ready to Receive a Call and granted permission to enter into negotiations for service. (G-2.0607)
- The Candidate preaches a sermon by means of the following process:
- The Candidate presents a written sermon to the Care Team with a description of the contemporary need to which it was addressed and an exegetical interpretation following the CPM Exegetical Work & Sermon Guidelines
- The pastor member of the Care Team, in collaboration with the elder member, is to review the exegetical work of the Candidate
- Arrangements to hear a sermon must be made by the Care Team in cooperation with the Candidate
- The elder of the Care Team is to hear the sermon and elicit feedback from members of the congregation
- If neither member of the Care Team is available to hear the sermon, the Care Team may solicit help from other commissioners or arrange for the sermon to be preached in the pulpit of the pastor member
- The Care Team is to verbally report at the CPM meeting
- The Care Team must submit the date and place of the Candidacy sermon to the presbytery office as this is a matter of record and report to Pittsburgh Presbytery
- The Candidate meets with the Care Team to review the Candidate’s one-page (850 words maximum with word count noted at the end of the document and lines numbered down the left side of the page) Statement of Faith and the Constitutional Ordination questions (W-4.4003). The Statement of Faith should include a discussion demonstrating an understanding of: the triune God; each person of the God-head; the saving work of Jesus Christ; the Church; scripture; sacraments; eschatology; humanity and sin. NOTE: The Statement of Faith presented, defended, and approved at the CPM meeting is the statement that is published and defended on the floor of the presbytery meeting and cannot be altered.
- The Candidate provides CPM with a copy of their statement of faith two weeks prior to the scheduled commission meeting. The Candidate appears before CPM, reads their Statement of Faith and is examined by CPM. If approved, the Candidate may request permission to circulate Personal Information Form (PIF) and enter into negotiation for service. NOTE: A Candidate cannot receive a call until they have completed the time requirement of G-2.0602 but may enter into negotiations before completing their seminary degree.
- CPM reports to Pittsburgh Presbytery the Candidate is Certified Ready to receive a call.
Phase 4: Certified Ready to Ordained
- The Candidate circulates their PIF. NOTE: If you are applying for any ordainable position in Pittsburgh Presbytery, including temporary relationships, it is required by the Commission on Ministry for you to complete and submit a PIF.
- The Candidate receives a call from a church or validated ministry and informs CPM.
- The Candidate submits to CPM the Planning the Commission for Your Ordination Service form for CPM approval at least one week prior to the CPM meeting. The Candidate may choose to appear before the CPM again or not, it is the personal choice of the Candidate. The Candidate MUST contact the Moderator of Pittsburgh Presbytery directly (for current moderator contact information, go to Staff Profiles page, under “Presbytery Moderators” section) to make them aware of the service details as the Moderator or their designee will be one of five members of the commission. NOTE: A completed draft of the bulletin must be submitted to the Moderator at least one week prior to the service. The Candidate may find service resources on the CPM Forms page under “Commission Planning”.
- CPM certifies the Candidate is ready to be examined by the presbytery and provides copies of the Candidate’s Statement of Faith for all commissioners to presbytery (G-2.0702).
- The presbytery of call to a Candidate for ministry shall ordain and install the Candidate (G-2.0702). If presbytery is fully satisfied the Candidate is suited, fit, and ready for ordination, the vote shall be to proceed to their ordination.
- If the ordination is conducted by Pittsburgh Presbytery, an appointed Commission ordains the Candidate and submits a report to the Stated Clerk of Pittsburgh Presbytery.
Rejoice! The Presbyterian Church (USA) has a newly ordained pastor. Praise be to God!