Monday, September 24, 2012

Ordination Ahead!

Tonight I was privileged to find time and energy between jury duty and collapse to attend the Presbytery meeting at which my friend Cassie was examined for ordination.

Here's how the two parallel sets of requirements work in the Presbyterian Church:

Your presbytery, your regional governing body, oversees your progress. At various stages in the process you present yourself for questioning before your own church session (council), before your Presbytery's Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and before the entire Presbytery.  You fill countless sheets of paper with essay answers to questions and with annual reports and reflections.  Your Presbytery is invested with great authority which it exercises through its CPM; it can insist that you attend a Presbyterian seminary (ours usually does), that you complete a unit (400 hours) of Clinical Pastoral Education (ours does), that you complete additional or specialized coursework or other training, that you complete an internship in a specified setting, and ~  I'm sure there are other things!

As you are making your way through the church's process, you are also completing your M.Div., for which your seminary or divinity school establishes its own requirements.  

The two tracks merge toward the end of seminary when, having taken the required coursework and received the permission of your Committee, you sit for the national ordination exams.  Once those are successfully behind you, the CPM meets with you again and, if all goes well (which it does not always do), you are certified "ready to receive a call."  

Since we have a call system rather than an appointment system, there is no ordination until there is a call to ministry in some capacity.  At that point, there is one more meeting -- an oral examination before the Presbytery, the meeting of representatives from all the churches in the Presbytery.  Then -- finally! -- a service of ordination.

Cassie and I met four summers ago, when we were doing our CPE at The Cleveland Clinic.  We spent the next summer together as well, taking intensive Hebrew at Pittsburgh Seminary.  And we spent a lot of time together tackling the ords.

Tonight, having been called to a chaplaincy position, she was examined for the ordination that will take place in another five weeks.  She was quite literally radiant: thorough, charming, competent, and radiant.

When I look back at what I've just written ~ at the years of classes and exams and meetings and presentations ~ it's hard to believe that anyone, especially anyone like us, quite some years removed from youth, could possibly be described as "radiant" at the end of it all.  

And yet, there it is.  The radiance of Jesus Christ.  And a first celebration of communion right around the corner.

1 comment:

  1. It is the radiance of Jesus Christ and the joy at being able to fulfill your passion to serve as an ordained minister of your loving God. How wonderful for Cassie and for you to be present at the Presbytery examination!