From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Ministry committee backs ordination of educators

Date 17 Jun 2002 20:53:07 -0400

Note #7251 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Ministry committee backs ordination of educators
June 17, 2002

Ministry committee backs ordination of educators

by Bill Lancaster

COLUMBUS, OH - The General Assembly committee on church orders and ministry voted on June 17 to recommending approval of most of the report of a task force favoring the ordination of Christian educators.

The measure would permit candidates who meet certain standards to be ordained as ministers of Word and Sacrament with a concentration in Christian education. Candidates would have to earn degrees and demonstrate teaching skills.

It also would:

* Add "teacher" to the list of duties of a pastor;

*  Permit the presentation of a lesson plan in lieu of a sermon in the examination process; and,

*  Provide a time period (through 2007) in which a presbytery may waive education and examination requirements to clear the way for the ordination of Certified Christian Educators "when a strategy for mission requires it" (by a three-fourths vote of the presbytery). 

One part of the task force's report was not approved: a section that would permit a CCE approved for ordination to serve as an associate pastor within the same congregation he or she serves as an educator. At press time, some committee members were planning to seek a reconsideration of that decision.

A number of influential Christian educators spoke in favor of the measures during a committee hearing. Among them were Freda Gardner, a former moderator of the General Assembly, Gay Mothershed, executive presbyter of West Virginia Presbytery, and Laura Mendenhall, the president of Columbia Theological Seminary.

Gardner told the committee members: "There are many congregations that have no understanding of what it means to be Reformed and Presbyterian. There are many more people in our congregations who want to know more, or want to deepen their understanding. 

"And there are those among us who feel themselves to be called to the ministry of education in the church, a ministry essential in the building up of the body of Christ.  Ordination to Word and Sacrament would not be the calling of all educators, but for those for whom it is, the proposal  that you have before you will allow them the modest but significant alternative way  to use their particular gifts in the ministry of education."
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