On Monday morning, General Synod 2022 discussed changes to how candidates for ministry pursue ordination. They endorsed recommendations to rename the Certificate of Proficiency in Ministry as the “Exam Readiness Certificate” and to change the process for awarding certificates.
The changes will now go before the classes for consideration, requiring at least two-thirds approval and ratification by General Synod 2023 before they can be enacted.
You should receive a Ministry Certificate before he can pursue ordination as a minister of Word and Sacrament in ARC. Three theological agents—Western Theological Seminary (WTS), New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) and the Ministerial Training Certification Agency (MFCA)—may grant credentials to candidates for ministry in the CRA.
The Pastoral Training Oversight Board (PFOB) presented the recommendations to synod after several years of discernment on changing the certification process. Council moderator Chad Pierce explained that there is confusion over what constitutes “fitness” for ministry, as it is not clearly defined in the Book of the Order of the Church. Another challenge, Pierce said, is that with the rise of online theological education, theological officers don’t always know students well enough to determine their suitability.
The name change and process adjustments are intended to clarify the certificate’s role in the ordination process. The proposed changes also affirm that the examination for ordination and licensure is a class responsibility.
The new process would not require theological officers to discern fitness for ministry. Instead, the awarding of the certificate would indicate to the class that a student meets the BCO examination requirements to become a minister of the Word and the sacraments. It would then be up to the classis to discern whether a candidate under its care is fit for ordination.
“We believe this will allow candidates to know what is expected of them and our theological officers to know what is expected of them,” Pierce said. “The certificate signifies that the [theological] the agents trained the candidates in what BCO says they need to know before handing them over to classes. We believe that the classis has the primary responsibility to determine if someone is ready for ordination.
If the changes passed on Monday are approved, all ministry candidates graduating from NBTS or WTS with a Master of Divinity and fulfilling the BCO requirements for Ministers of Word and Sacrament would receive a certificate of preparation for the examination.
The MFCA would still determine whether students from other seminaries and those following the approved alternate route meet the requirements for a certificate. However, the MFCA would not offer additional courses required for ordination in the ARC directly as it currently does. Instead, candidates would take any additional courses through NBTS or WTS.