The Beginning of an Exciting Journey

If you are reading this section on Applicants, you likely sense a call to become a pastor as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Perhaps others sense that call and have led you here.

The model for the ministry of a Teaching Elder is the ministry of Jesus Christ.  We welcome you to a journey of exploration and preparation for that ministry.  

With your application you will enter a formal process the first part of which begins with the Session of your church.

The CPM’s job is to guide the process.  First we help you explore your gifts and clarify your sense of call.  

The CPM in covenant with you will then guide you along a path of full preparation to serve as a minister of the Word and Sacrament.  We will clarify and communicate expectations and requirements, all the while encouraging you and speaking honestly as God is our witness.

We look forward to working with you.

Process Overview

There are three basic steps to becoming a PC(USA) Teaching Elder that the CPM oversees:

1.  Inquiry - a period of exploration
The purpose of inquiry is to provide opportunities for the church and for those who believe they may be called to the ministry of teaching elder to explore and test that call together. To make this exploration as effective as possible, a network of caring, supportive relationships is initiated – first, between the inquirer and the church session, then with the presbytery through its Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and with the theological institution. In regular consultation with the committee, the inquirer evaluates the personal implications and the suitability of a church occupation, is guided in prayerful examination of his or her motivation, personal faith and experience in the congregation, and makes a serious assessment of the gifts needed by teaching elders, comparing them with his or her own gifts. This phase also provides the church with opportunities to respond directly to the inquirer’s questions and concerns. 

2.  Candidacy - a period of preparation
The purpose of this phase is to provide opportunities for the church to support persons received as candidates in their preparation for the ministry of teaching elder. It is the responsibility of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry to create an environment in which the uniqueness of each individual candidate is taken seriously. As partners in a covenant relationship, both the committee and the candidate are encouraged to work together as they plan for and evaluate the candidate’s growth and development.

3.  Final Assessment/Certification of Readiness to receive a call - ready to begin ministry
Final assessment is usually scheduled when a candidate has satisfied the requirements listed in G-2.0607b-d that are easily verifiable.

The committee’s decision to certify a candidate “ready for examination for ordination, pending a call” is based on prayerful reflection, review of the covenanted goals negotiated with the candidate, and on their mutual discernment that God has called that person and that he or she has adequately prepared by developing personal gifts for ministry in response to that call.

When conducting final assessment and certifying candidates ready to seek a call, it is important for the presbytery’s committee to give attention to, and prepare the candidates for, some common issues faced in one’s first-call:

  • Continuing development of one’s self-understanding in the role of pastor.
  • Understanding the congregation they will serve in terms of its history, ethos, programs, and status in the community, and in relation to the denomination.
  • Establishing an appropriate pastoral relationship style for the specific ministry context.
  • Dealing with conflict that may emerge in the congregation or ministry setting.

A word to advice: make sure to review the Book of Order, the PCUSA Advisory Handbook on Preparation for Ministry, and other CPM documents for a more detailed explanation of the process (these are linked here). You are responsible for knowing the details.

Resources

To Read:

The Application: 

You may access the PDF version of each form simply by clicking on the specific form designation. Once you begin completing a form, you should use “Save as …” to create a new file (e.g., “NameForm1A.pdf”).

Form 1A  “Application to be enrolled by Presbytery as an Inquirer"
To be completed initially by the applicant seeking to be enrolled. Both the committee/commission overseeing preparation for ministry and the presbytery’s actions regarding the application are recorded on this form. It provides basic information regarding the applicant’s background, identity, and interests. This form includes a list of personal references.

Form 1B  “Questions for Reflection”
These questions are to be completed by the applicant as a basis for direct discussion first with the session of the applicant’s home church and later with the presbytery’s committee/commission overseeing preparation for ministry.

Form 1C  “Financial Planning for Theological Education”
Using basic information provided by the applicant, this spreadsheet automatically generates a projection of the applicant’s financial resources and needs relative to the required seminary training.

Form 1D  “Session Evaluation and Recommendation”
This form is completed by the applicant’s session and forwarded along with the other application forms to the presbytery’s committee/commission overseeing preparation for ministry. The form includes questions that may guide the session’s discussion with the applicant and provide support for its recommendation to the committee/commission overseeing preparation for ministry.

Background Check: 
Applicants should contact the presbytery's Stated Clerk, Rev. Dean Strong, to have their backgrounds checked. Rev. Strong can be reached by phone at the presbytery office (425.355.0922) and via email