Posts Tagged ‘PC(USA)’

Feedback from the 219th General Assembly (2010)

February 5, 2011

After participating as a Theological Student Advisory Delegate (TSAD) at the 219th General Assembly of the PC(USA), an e-mail was sent out asking for feedback.  This was probably more feedback than was necessary, but I guess I had a lot to say.  Not sure why this took me so long to post.  Time has just gotten away from me!

~~~~~~~~

Do you think the social media policy at General Assembly was appropriate?

  • Yes, completely appropriate
  • Yes, mostly appropriate
  • Yes, somewhat appropriate
  • No
  • Not sure

I chose “Yes, mostly appropriate.”

Comments about the social media policy:

It seems that some read the social media policy as a restriction of social media. When I read it, I understood it to delineate a judicious and appropriate use of social media (i.e., not to find out how other people want me to vote). It seemed that the policy acknowledged the presence of social media as a part of life (i.e., not a “fad”) but somehow that seemed to get a little bit lost.  As a connectional church, I found it appropriate and AWEsome that 1) so many people were interested in the business of the church and 2) that we now have way for people to easily *participate* in this part of the life of the church in meaningful ways.  I have heard it said quite a few times that there is a disconnect between what happens at GA and what is going on at local churches and social media combined with audio/visual coverage of GA has unbelievable potential to bridge that gap.  With this in mind, it seems a bit short sighted to communicate anything less than full acceptance and even encouragement of social media at GA.  It was neat to be able to answer general questions people had about the business at hand for those on Twitter who were following along via the live feed.

Most important three issues covered at GA: (more…)

Candidate

April 26, 2010

I am happy to announce that as of Saturday, I am a Candidate for ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I am thrilled and thankful for all those who have been supporting me along the way. God is good!

Some thoughts on Discerning the Call

March 3, 2010

The title of this post might be more accurately stated “Some Random thoughts on Discerning the Call.”  I am writing this post in hopes that my experience thus far will be of help for folks who are also discerning a call to ministry.  Though in many ways my experience will ground this discussion largely in the framework of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), my hope is that some of my thoughts will be general enough to speak to folks in other denominations as well.  Much of this post is based on an e-mail I wrote to a friend who is also in the process of discernment.

As it stands, I am one step away from Candidacy.  I have met with (and gotten the thumbs up from) the Committee on Preparation for Ministry in my Presbytery and will be going before presbytery in April if all goes as planned.  That said, since ordination is the responsibility of the presbytery, this process will differ depending on what presbytery you are in.  While the backbone of the process will remain the same, some (or many) of the specifics will change.  There are some presbyteries that make additions to what the Book of Order requires on a case by case basis.  There are others that have formalized extra requirements for all candidates.  In most cases, it seems to me that the “extra” requirements are not anything you won’t have the opportunity to do at seminary, but they are specifically delineated and will hold you up from ordination if you don’t complete them.  In some cases, the seminary requires some of the items for graduation so they are no brainers.

So far as what I have experienced going through the process, my session has not had someone under care for quite some time so most of the folks on session were not as familiar with the process.  If there is a seminary in your presbytery, this will likely not be an issue as there will probably be LOTS of inquirers and candidates in these presbyteries! : ) As a result of the fact that my session was learning right along with me, initially my session and I walked through the process together. While some sessions assign a liaison before ever appearing in front of session (the first step in the process), my liaison was assigned after the session voted to endorse me as an inquirer. I have heard that some people select their liaison but in my case, she volunteered. Fortunately she is a wonderful liaison!  I submitted my Form 1 prior to my meeting with session and got advice before submitting the document but did it mostly on my own.  The questions on the forms definitely freaked me out (both for the inquirer form (FORM 1) and the candidacy form (FORM 5A)) but it seems to me that the forms are 1) a way to get an idea of your spiritual growth throughout the process and 2) to contribute to your spiritual growth throughout the process. Answering the questions has forced me to delineate my faith and as a result it has been strengthened. I became an inquirer in July 2008. When I was filling out my Form 5A in December 2009, I looked at my answers to my Form 1 and wanted to laugh. Having not been in the Presbyterian church for very long when I filled it out, I was grasping for straws when it came to the vocabulary to express my beliefs. This is something I still struggle with but being in the Presbyterian mecca of Princeton Theological Seminary has definitely helped. The forms are a way for session and the Committee to see who you are and not really to see if you can give the “right” answers.  Granted this is as I see it and if you wrote something about how you took a pilgrimage to Disney to get closer to Jesus they might raise their eyebrows, but at this point, they want to hear your story and they want to get to know who you are.  And when I say your story, I mean your faith journey and your sense of call thus far.

Having walked through the process thus far, it seems to me that there are two functions of the CPM: 1) serving as a gatekeeper and 2) serving as a support throughout the process. Sometimes their “support” may not feel that way, but being challenged, while not comfortable, is going to help with discernment just as much as the ‘atta-boys’ so to speak.  I no longer feel as much of the ‘gatekeeper’ mentality going on but feel more support.  I don’t think the ‘gatekeeper’ aspect of the community ever goes away, but after the committee gets to know you a bit, it will not be (or at least will not seem to be?) as prominent.

One thing I learned along the way totally changed the way I thought about things: you do NOT have to defend your call to anyone.  There are various aspects of your story that may make you feel as though you need to defend your call, so you will need to talk about how those things have played into your discernment process, but again, you don’t need to defend your call. It’s not even yours really…it’s God’s call on your life.  Or even God’s call on the life God has given to you to live.  There will be folks who will help you discern what that might mean or look like, but ultimately if God is calling you and you merely have to decide whether you will answer.  I don’t recommend running from a sense of call (just look at Jonah) but that’s an entirely different post.

219th General Assembly

January 21, 2010

I just found out that I will be going to the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a Theological Student Delegate.  I’m pretty excited about it.  If you are going to be there, let me know either in the comments or on Twitter (@pinkhammer).

Confused: Too Many Possibilities

January 10, 2010

Photo by: Stefan Baudy

Lately I have been frustrated with the choices I have in front of me.  While I was comfortable coming into seminary not knowing what I would end up doing afterwards (since it is at least 3 years away), I have definitely been seeking clarity with respect to my call.  I have quite a few great opportunities with the programs the seminary offers, and it is all very exciting!  That is except when I start to plan what it will look like to follow that path and subsequently wonder if it is the path I will walk or not.  For instance, there is a great joint degree program that Princeton Seminary offers that would allow me to earn a Master’s in Social Work with only one additional year of schooling.  As this is something I have felt drawn towards in the past, it started to seem as though that was something I was called to do.  As this would require me to be much more judicious with the courses I take, I came up with a fabulous spread sheet to keep track of the credit requirements for the M-Div and leave room for classes that would count towards the MSW.  But now I am doubting that.  I am taking a class about teaching in the church and it is becoming very evident to me that I am passionate about helping people learn.  But what am I supposed to do with that?  I have thought that maybe I could see if they would let me shift to a dual degree so I could get an Master’s degree in Christian Education and the M.Div. but I can’t very well do that and the MSW program.  I’m not trying to make plans of my own without regard for what God is calling me to do but maybe that’s what’s happening.  I am trying to discern what God is calling me to do which to me means stepping out in faith and being willing to be wrong.  I wonder if that’s part of the problem then?  Maybe I am not really willing to be wrong.  Maybe I just want to pick something and have it magically be part of what God is calling me to do.  I guess I will try to hold the possibility that I am wrong and the hope that I have discerned rightly together for as long as possible and wait for God to redirect my plans.  If only that we as easy to do as it is to say.

On a positive note, I am scheduled to meet with my session via Skype on Tuesday to start the process of becoming a Candidate for ministry of Word and Sacrament.  My meeting with CPM (the ordination committee for PC(USA)) is scheduled for Jan 19th though I will not be going to the Presbytery meeting until April.  I am okay with that though because it means everyone will be able to be there.