The CPMM Process
We’ve developed a comprehensive overview of the preparation for ministry process as prescribed by the Book of Order and shaped by Donegal Presbytery.
A helpful single page checklist of the process can be found on the CPMM documents page.
As you begin to discern a call to ordained ministry, the first step is to begin (or continue) conversations with the pastor of your congregation and then with either the Connectional or Missional Presbyter in the Presbytery. These conversations can help sharpen your sense of call and also answer questions about the process. In the Presbyterian Church, we believe call is discerned by an individual in community and affirmed by the larger bodies of the church along the way.
Meet with the Session
After these initial conversations of discernment, it's time to fill out the first set of forms and meet with the session of your congregation of membership. The meeting with the session is the next step of community discernment, and the session must vote to support your desire to come under care for ordination. With that vote in the affirmative, the session will appoint a liaison to walk with you through the process and keep you in prayer.
Meet with CPMM
It's now time to meet with the Commission on Preparation for Missional Ministry! Commission members are teaching and ruling elders and are committed to walking with people discerning a call to further service in the church. During this meeting, you will describe your sense of call and think with the commission about the next steps in your journey. After the commission votes to enroll you as an Inquirer, a liaison to CPMM will be appointed, who will be your primary contact and support person through this multi-year process.
First Year Requirements
Within the first year of the process, you are enrolled as an Inquirer and asked to complete some initial requirements. These include a confidential criminal background check with the Presbytery office, some form of anti-racism training, and completing a full psychological assessment. The assessment is paid for in partnership between CPMM, the congregation, and the inquirer, and financial help is always available. The Bible Content Exam is often taken early in the process as well, though not necessarily in the first year.
A significant piece of the preparation for ministry is the education required to become a pastor in the PC(USA). To learn more about this particular part of the process, visit our CPMM Academics page. A core requirement is completing a Master of Divinity degree in an accredited seminary, which is usually at least a three year process.
Annual Meetings with CPMM
While you complete your education and ministry experience requirements, you will have at least annual meetings with CPMM and hopefully with your session. Your liaisons act as conversation partners in between those meetings, and help you keep track of your progress and next steps.
Becoming a Candidate
After being an Inquirer for a minimum of one year, you may ask to move into the next phase of the preparation process, which is becoming a Candidate. You will again meet with the Session, this time with your first Faith Statement of the process. The session will then recommend to CPMM that you move into the candidacy phase, and you will meet with the commission. At this point, the questions will be a little deeper, exploring your understanding of your faith and what you've learned in your academic preparation.
After Becoming a Candidate
You must be a Candidate for at least one year as part of the preparation process, which is important to keep in mind as you're thinking about the arc of your call journey. During your candidacy phase, you may be finishing education requirements or ministry experience requirements, or you may be working in a non-ordained position. At some point, in consultation with CPMM, you will take the remaining ordination exams. After passing those, you may begin to work on the forms you'll need to search for your first call. As always, your liaison walks with you through these steps!
Certified "Ready to Receive a Call"
When all the requirements are completed, all exams have been passed, and your education is either complete or graduation is around the corner, you may ask CPMM to "certify that you are ready to receive a call." This is the most comprehensive conversation with the commission, and will include approval of your call search forms, your statement of faith, and often a sermon preached for the commission. This is the last required step before you may begin to search for your first call as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Receiving a Call
This part of the process can sometimes be very quick, and other times can take a long time. Remember how we said that call is discerned in community? This is the last part of the process. Now it's time for your call to ministry, which has been shaped and affirmed by your home congregation and the CPMM, to be affirmed by a calling organization or congregation and their Presbytery. You'll experience the interview process with the calling body and will examined on the floor of the Presbytery where you will be serving in ordained ministry. Once all the votes of affirmation are in, you will then be able to plan your service of ordination in consultation with the Presbytery. Often, if your call is in a different Presbytery than where you prepared, you may ask for permission to be ordained in your home Presbytery and church instead of in the congregation or organization that is calling you. Either way, the service of ordination is planned in partnership with the Presbytery.