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Switch to Forum Live View PC(USA) CPL and Seminaries
7 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2007 - 12:28PM #1
arrow_keys
Posts: 4
What does anyone know about the Commissioned Lay Pastor program in the PC(USA)?  Does your church have members who are CPLs or is your churched served by one?

I see the the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary has a completely online set of courses for CPL.   Does anyone know more about this, other than what I could find out by contacting the Seminary?

Fianlly, a few years ago someone had a thread where they were giving short descriptions of each PC(USA) seminary.  Sort of like Princeton is the (fill in the blank) seminary.  etc.  I cannot track it down and can't figure out how to do an adequate search.  Any ideas?
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2007 - 11:49AM #2
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258
My Presbyterey has used a few CPL's, they are a good and creative solution in many situations.  The one thing I don't like about the system is the CPLs cannot administer the sacraments, which means an outsider has to be brought in every time you serve communion or baptize, causing logisitical and financial difficulties, plus I just don't like the implication since the CPL really IS the pastor.  But other than that it seems to work well from the church's perspective.  From the candidate's perspective I'd say if you have the wherewithall to go through the ordination process you're better off that way for a lot of practical reasons.  This is particularly true for women.  But if that's not an option by all means consider CPL.

Our CPM has just begun using Dubuque's online courses with some of our candidates that need to pick up the odd class or two, and have had a very positive response.  In fact, some candidates said they got more out of the online interraction than they did in their residential classes-- which is quite unusual for online courses.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 29, 2007 - 3:50PM #3
jedithom
Posts: 45
I don't think there is a national standard for the CLPs, but each Presbytery has its own set of rules of certification and courses of study.  With an online program at Dubuque, I wouldn't be surprised if this starts to be the standard.
Personally, I would rather that we did not have CLPs but do more as a denomination to ensure that all churches (no matter the size) in the PC(USA) had seminary trained pastors.  It shouldn't be a money issue or a question of membership size.  To me a CLP is a band-aid that avoids looking at the long term problem. 
As to your other question, I attended Princeton Theological Seminary 1992-1994 and again 1998-2000.  During my time there two aspects of the Seminary impressed me.  One was the broad international community.  For me, the addition of their voices to the conversations only gave my education a broadness and depth.  In connection to that, I was impressed at the wide range of voices that were given space on campus.  I heard a wide range of understandings all along the theological spectrum from both professors and students.  And it goes without saying that the education I received there was top notch.  Of course I'm biased, but I think Princeton is still the best of our seminaries.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 04, 2007 - 10:05PM #4
bktx1
Posts: 45
From my layman's perspective, it seems that the PCUSA drives many prospects out of the denomination with an emphasis on PC over suitability for the position. My best friend bolted for the Disciples of Christ when it became apparent that his conservative theological views were going to lock him up for two years or more, or doom him.  The DOC welcomed him with open arms.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 05, 2007 - 11:10AM #5
jedithom
Posts: 45
bktx1,
I don't think we can always assume that every person called to ministry will fit in every denomination as if there is not difference in denominations or ministers... a one size fits all idea.  I think for many ministers who are unhappy in the PC(USA) or other denominations the reason is that they just don't fit.  It may be that your friend is much more effective in the DOC than he would have ever been in the PC(USA).  In which case the committee who locked him up may have done him a favor instead of an injustice.  It's not always a question of PC, but there has to be a level of discernment in matching up the call.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 05, 2007 - 1:56PM #6
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258
I agree.

I would say I think CPM's have too much unchecked power in our system (and I say this as a member of CPM), which can lead to such difficulties.  It can happen in either direction, by the way.  I know of Presbyeries ruled over by extreme conservatives who make life difficult for liberals, just as there are liberal Presbyteries who make life difficult for conservatives.  Given we are a diverse denomination, generally there are plenty of spaces for qualified pastors from all segments of the theological spectrum to find somewhere to serve-- it's a matter of being discerning in where you apply.  And in most levels of the system there are enough checks and balances in the system to prevent more egregious abuses of authority.  Unfortunately, CPM doesn't have as many checks and balances, they can leave a qualified candidate languishing for years if they chose to.  This is a loophole in our polity that needs to be mended.

I'm fortunate to be a member of a Presbytery that is almost precisely evenly divided among liberals and conservatives, which means we HAVE to work together.  We have had a number of "refugee" candidates from other (more hostile) Presbyteries move to our Presbytery in order to get a fair shake-- even if it means losing a year or more in the process.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 05, 2007 - 1:56PM #7
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258
I agree.

I would say I think CPM's have too much unchecked power in our system (and I say this as a member of CPM), which can lead to such difficulties.  It can happen in either direction, by the way.  I know of Presbyeries ruled over by extreme conservatives who make life difficult for liberals, just as there are liberal Presbyteries who make life difficult for conservatives.  Given we are a diverse denomination, generally there are plenty of spaces for qualified pastors from all segments of the theological spectrum to find somewhere to serve-- it's a matter of being discerning in where you apply.  And in most levels of the system there are enough checks and balances in the system to prevent more egregious abuses of authority.  Unfortunately, CPM doesn't have as many checks and balances, they can leave a qualified candidate languishing for years if they chose to.  This is a loophole in our polity that needs to be mended.

I'm fortunate to be a member of a Presbytery that is almost precisely evenly divided among liberals and conservatives, which means we HAVE to work together.  We have had a number of "refugee" candidates from other (more hostile) Presbyteries move to our Presbytery in order to get a fair shake-- even if it means losing a year or more in the process.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 05, 2007 - 4:21PM #8
jedithom
Posts: 45
I have thankfully not yet been in a Presbytery with an out of whack CPM.  But I have known people who were preparing to be ministers within the PC(USA) who had little connection with its basic theology.  Often they came from a different tradition but then chose the PC(USA) for one reason or another to serve in.  But their personal theology never left their former tradition and so there would be this out of sync quality to them.  I feel for CPM's and the decisions they have to make.  How do you tell someone who feels called to the ministry that this denomination just isn't right for them and that they would be happier somewhere else?  How do you tell a candidate that they just aren't suited for ministry?  While you have those working certain agendas, I would bet you have just as many CPM's who do little in order to avoid conflict.
How about this... I knew one person in Seminary whose goal was to become ordained and create havoc in the denomination.  I have no idea if his CPM ever picked up on it.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2007 - 10:45AM #9
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258
Yes, there is more than a little "going along" in order to "not make waves."  And IMHO that's not always bad.  We are a diverse denomination, since we have congregations that really exemplify all ranges of the theological spectrum from near-fundamentalist/Darbyites to charismatic to process theology to whatever, it's probably appropriate that we have enough openness in our examination process to allow a theologically diverse spectrum of candidates to get through.  I think the trend toward candidates with non-standard, non-PCUSA backgrounds is a good thing, that causes us to stretch and grow and reflect in important ways.  (But perhaps that's because my own charismatic/Arminian leanings put me on that questionable edge, and I'm grateful my Presbytery doesn't give me grief about it).  But it does beg the question of what are our distinctives, what should a congregation be able to expect as a bare minimum theologically speaking from someone certified ready for ordination in PCUSA?

And of course, if candidates aren't self-disclosing, a CPM isn't apt to pick up on an agenda like your friends in a single annual consultation.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2007 - 11:43PM #10
resolutions1
Posts: 15
I've taken several CLP courses through Dubuque and have been pleased both with the quality of education and the depth of relationships that have developed.  Some of my ordained friends have looked at the syllabi and amount of work required in Dubuque's CLP program and believed that it was similar in rigor to their work in seminary.   

Although it would be wonderful to have Ministers of the Word and Sacrament in all congregations, I don't see that as practical at this time.  Our Presbytery has many small and family churches that need a 1/4 or 1/2 time pastor and the CLPs serve this function very effectively.  According to the newest BoO, CLPs can administer the sacraments (G-14.0562).

I'm the Evangelism Specialist for my Presbytery (new position and totally uncharted territory) and hope to use my CLP training to more effectively work with congregations that want to learn how to evangelize and/or transform.

Grace and peace,

Ann
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