Transforming the PC(USA) Ordination Exams

The Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates has created a task force for addressing recently raised concerns about the ordination exams. Members include:

– Rev. LeeAnn Scarborough, Chair of the Theology Group (Moderator)
– Bob Keefer, Elder, Member of Polity Task Group
– Steve Ramey, Elder, Bible Task Group
– Rev. Rob Lowry, Chair of Worship and Sacraments Task Group, Cahir of PCC Executive Committee

There has been a lot of controversy about the choice of Judges 19 as the scripture passage for the Winter Biblical Exegesis exam. Here are some useful links.

What Happened?

What were the Exam Questions?

Why is this Important?

What Changes are People Asking For?

What is the Response of the PCC?

  • A proposed statement for students to read and affirm when registering for exams – part 1 & part 2.
  • There was an open meeting on Tuesday, March 14th where they approved a statement of apology and made plans to discuss this matter further later in the week. Here is the video of the meeting.
  • The PCC approved an apology statement. Here is a transcript of the approved apology. (Click on “Items for Consideration” and then open “Approved Committee Statement on 2023W Exegesis.”)
  • Here is a video of the approved apology.
  • Here is an article about the 3/14 meeting.
  • In the open meeting on Thursday, March 16th, the PCC edited and then approved the proposed statement to be affirmed when students register for exams. They also agreed to form a task force to engage in conversations (in some fashion) with the groups that invited them into conversation during this controversy. There is a deadline for them to conduct these conversations before the end of the year. The task force will consist of no less than five members of the PCC, at least 2 from the executive committee and three who cannot be from the same subcommittee. They budgeted no more than $50,000 for this purpose, thinking that they may need one or more in person meetings. However, they did note that their budget comes from exam fees. So, they weighed spending money and pushing up the cost of the test versus meeting with concerned church entities to learn about the variety of concerns that have been brought to light. [As noted above, additional concerns include trauma-informed tests, statistics that clearly show that sexual violence disproportionately affects marginalized groups, a widely held sense that the PCC lacs transparency , calls to re-examine the purpose of the exams and whether they measure that, etc.]. Then, they formed a task force of three members to address the comment from the 225th GA that they should, “investigate ways to both respect the need for consistency between presbyteries, especially for members of groups traditionally facing greater barriers to access, and that we look for alternatives to ordination exams to prepare candidates for ministry.” Members of both committees would be voted in on Saturday.
  • Here is the video of the March 16th meeting. [This link is presently broken. I think it was taken down by accident. I’ll update when I know more.]
  • Here is an article about the March 16th meeting. – including the newly approved statement at exam registration.
  • Here is another article about the March 16th meeting.
  • Information about the task forces will be posted when it becomes publicly available.

When is the PCC Meeting?

  • The current meeting period concluded on Saturday March 18th. There are no more meetings open to the public at this time.

What Testimony was Considered in the PCC Meeting? [Testimony was not Directly Referenced]

Watch this page for more updates!

Image credit: “Festival of Lights” by John August Swanson, 2000.

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