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Preparation for Ministry

Advisory Handbook on Preparing for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


A new edition of the Advisory Handbook has been released to reflect amendments to the Book of Order approved by the presbyteries in 2015 related to the preparation for ministry process and to continue the work of providing “models of ways presbyteries are responding to unique and emerging issues related to the preparation and equipping of persons for ordered ministry as a teaching elder” (General Assembly Minutes, 2014, Part 1, pages 378-79). Every line of the Handbook has been reviewed and updated as necessary.

Mid Council Ministries staff also took the occasion of these required changes to bring the style of this Handbook into line with the most recent editions of the Handbook on Standard Ordination Examinations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The “Advisory Handbook” guides those discerning a possible call to ordered ministry as teaching elders and those who work with them through the process of preparation for ministry. It explores the changing ministry landscape into which God will “send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38), reviews the current constitutional requirements related to preparation for ordination as a teaching elder, outlines the responsibilities of the different partners in the process, and identifies resources on a variety of related topics.

The “Advisory Handbook” is regularly updated in response to suggestions from the presbyteries and actions by the church and its agencies. The latest revision is identifiable by the date “June 2015” and “release 2.0” on the cover and copyright pages. 

Complete “Advisory Handbook”


Portions related to specific topics are also available as handouts in either Adobe Reader (.pdf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) file formats.

“Preparing for Ministry Today”

Download the PDF

“Walking the Road Together” (Book of Order requirements review)

Preparing for ordination as a teaching elder

                                Inquiry, candidacy, and beyond (G-2.0601; G-3.0307) PDFWord

                                Shared responsibilities for care (G-2.0605) PDFWord

                                Oversight and Immigration Issues PDFWord

                                Changing the partners to the covenant (G-2.0608) PDFWord

                                Take the time necessary (G-2.0602)  PDFWord

                                Preparing for ministry through practice (G-2.0606) PDFWord

                 Inquiry Phase (G-2.0603)

                                Admission to Inquiry PDFWord

                                During Inquiry PDFWord

                                Deciding about “suitability for ordered ministry” PDFWord

                Candidacy Phase (G-2.0604)

                                Entering the Candidacy Phase PDFWord

                                During Candidacy PDFWord                                          

                                Deciding about “fitness and readiness” PDFWord

                Examining Inquirers and Candidates (G-2.0104) PDFWord

                                Final Assessment and Negotiation for Service (G-2.0607) PDFWord

                                Certified Ready for Examination, Pending a Call (G-2.0607) PDFWord

                Accommodations to Particular Circumstances (G-2.0610) PDFWord

                Removal from Covenant Relationship (G-2.0609) PDFWord

                Ordination (G-2.07) PDFWord


Roles and Responsibilities of Participants

                The Inquirer and Candidate

                                Before the process begins PDFWord

                                Initiating the process with your session PDFWord

                                Taking the session endorsement to the presbytery PDFWord

                                During the inquiry phase PDFWord

                                Considering transition to the candidacy phase  PDFWord

                                During the candidacy phase  PDFWord

                                Final assessment and negotiation for service  PDFWord

                                Receiving a call and ordination PDFWord

                The Session

                                Developing awareness of the call to teaching elder PDFWord

                                Exploring the call to ministry as a teaching elder PDFWord

                                Supporting inquirers and candidates PDFWord

                The Presbytery

                                Responsibilities of the presbytery as a whole PDFWord

                                Organizing to provide for the “full preparation” of teaching elders PDFWord

                                Responsibilities of the entity overseeing preparation for ministry PDFWord

                                Deciding whether to enroll an inquirer PDFWord

                                During the inquiry phase PDFWord

                                Considering transition to the candidacy phase PDFWord

                                During the candidacy phase PDFWord

                                Final assessment and negotiation for service PDFWord

                                Receiving a call and ordination PDFWord

                                General Responsibilities PDFWord

                 The Theological Institutions PDFWord

                The Synod and General Assembly PDFWord



                Internet resources PDFWord

                Forms for use in the preparation for ministry process PDFWord

                Alternative Assessment of Competency PDFWord

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