Let the Craziness of the Call Process Begin

Right now, 3.00pm EST, I am in an interview. And the craziness of the call process begins.

Granted, it’s a crazy time for all seniors at Princeton Seminary. Especially if you’re PC(USA). My presbytery has been very helpful in allowing me to begin circulating my PIF (Personal Information Form) but I know some people whose presbyteries aren’t allowing them to even be in conversation with churches until they’ve graduated.

Right. Try and figure that one out. They’ll need jobs post-graduation, but they can’t start looking until they’ve graduated…so, most likely some of them will have to go home to live with the in-laws until they find jobs. It’s just ridiculous that a few presbyteries just don’t seem to get that.

For Sarah and I, it’s pretty complicated because Sarah will be applying for PhD programs, and she’ll be applying for jobs and I will be applying for jobs. Sarah is applying to 5 schools in different parts of the country. Of course, the ideal situation would be that Sarah would get into a PhD program that she’s excited about, and I would also find a job in the same area. The chances of that happening…? Who knows. Sarah won’t hear back from PhD programs until March or April, so that adds an additional “timing” element that will make things tricky as well. We’ve both had experiences of things all coming together in the end – and now this is our first experience of seeing how that works with two people…should be fun.

The interview that I am doing right now is for an Associate Pastor of Youth & Young Adults position. I’m very interested in positions where I could work with college-aged students or young adults. Ideally, I would love to find a position as a Campus Chaplain. If any of you know of any jobs or opportunities that might be in these areas, please send me an email and let me know. Especially if you know of any job opportunities in Berkeley, Claremont, Atlanta, Philly/Princeton/NYC or Boston, please let me know.

One Less Hoop to Jump Through

Jumping Through Hoops

Today marked one less hoop to jump through, hopefully. The Church Polity Ordination Exam was today, and it was the last of 4 (Church Polity, Theology, Worship & Sacraments, and Exegesis) ordination exams PC(USA)ers have to take – and pass – in order to get ordained. I say hopefully because I thought this exam was pretty straight-forward and simple. That post-exam feeling can be good – or it can mean that I totally didn’t get the questions. I’m hoping that it means I just did well and my Presbyterian Polity course at Columbia really paid off.

I’m really not a fan of these ordination exams. While it’s just one way to “test” to see if you’re ready to be a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), an incredible amount of weight is put on these timed exams. You have three hours for each of the Church Polity, Theology and Worship & Sacraments exams, and you get about a week for the take-home exegesis exam. If you fail, you fail – and you can’t move on in the ordination process until you’ve passed. Let alone the fact that some people aren’t good test-takers, it is an incredibly inauthentic process. You basically just have to say what you think the readers/graders of the exams are going to want to hear. So whether or not you believe what you write, and whether or not you’d actually act in such a way when you actually get out into the real world of ministry, you still have to “pretend” to be a good, Book-of-Order-abiding Presbyterian Inquirer/Candidate for ministry. And then you have to get a good grader. If any of your own “personal” theology or thoughts on ministry slip through your 40+ pages of writing for the four exams, and your reader disagrees with you, they can mark you down. One reader told me that it also really depends on the reader’s mood. While I’m sure they are told to be as objective as possible – one could argue whether that really happens.

Should we get rid of ordination exams? I don’t know. Maybe. Some might then argue that we wouldn’t know if people know enough “Reformed theology” or if they are proficient enough in their Greek or Hebrew (as if most will ever continue to use it once in parish ministry). Shouldn’t the process be such that relationships are formed between Inquirers/Candidates and their CPMs (Committee on Preparation for Ministry) where the committees should know that anyway because of their history with each person in the process. I suppose that’s easier for me to say when my Presbytery currently only has 2 Inquirers/Candidates going through the process.

There must be a better way. Anyone have any ideas?

Back in Princeton

On the Road

Sarah and I are now back in Princeton. We accumulated over 6,000 miles on our Yaris, listened to some really amazing books on CD, including Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” and the entire “His Dark Materials” Trilogy by Philip Pullman. 9am Saturday morning we’ll be sitting in the basement of the Mackay Campus Center at Princeton taking our final exam for the PC(USA) ordination process: Church Polity. We have to write about 10 pages of material on church polity, government and discipline in 3 hours and then someone has to say, “Yup – you get it!” and then we can be done with one more hoop in this whole ordination process. So, if you’re thinking of us, and everyone else who will be taking the exam, around 9am-noon EST, shoot us up a prayer. Over the next three weeks, I have some plans for some interesting and hopefully thought-provoking posts for this blog – so keep an eye out for that.