Presbyterian Ordination

In the Presbyterian Church (USA), those interested in exploring a call to ordained ministry enter a discernment relationship with their presbytery’s CPM (Committee for the Preparation of Ministry). The person needs first to be endorsed by the session of the Presbyterian Church (USA) church where he or she is a member, and then received by the CPM. (S/he needs to have been active in that congregation for at least six months before being endorsed.)

The person’s formal relationship with the presbytery’s CPM then has an inquirer phase of at least one year, and if desired by the inquirer and approved by the presbytery, a candidacy phase of at least one year.

The particulars of the process and the requirements for preparation will vary by presbytery, but generally speaking, all CPMs will seek to support those in the ordination process and they will take an interest in the student’s preparations: courses, psychological testing, CPE, etc. Some presbyteries have full and detailed course expectations; others are looking more generally to make sure students study theology, scripture and Reformation history. A requirement for PC (USA) ordination is the study of Greek and Hebrew, as well as coursework in Biblical exegesis with original languages.

The denomination requires satisfactory performance on five ordination examinations: Bible Content, Theology, Worship, Polity and Biblical Exegesis. The first exam is a timed, multiple choice test. The next three are larger timed exams, with essay answers. The exegesis exam is a take-home essay.

At HDS, the Presbyterian Denominational Counselor supports Presbyterians in the ordination process in various ways, including:

  • Identifying courses that satisfy presbytery expectations. As mentioned, some CPMs have general requirements, but others have a detailed list. The DC can assist in finding those HDS or BTI courses that meet CPM requirements.
  • A Presbyterian Polity course, offered every two years,
  • Study guidance for the ordination exams. The DC is an exam proctor and can guide effective preparation for these tests.
  • Guidance in locating Presbyterian field education sites.