I am at the point now in my seminary career where the academic training of the seminary and candidacy process of the CRC denomination start to merge.
I have one semester left at Calvin Seminary and am in the process of fulfilling the obligations of my coursework. At the same time, I have begun to fulfill the obligations set forth by the denomination for candidacy. These requirements are several:
1. Submission of two sermons including the full manuscript along with supporting exegetical research and commentary, and an outline. One text has been assigned to me by the candidacy committee (Genesis 32:22-32) and the other is a text of my choosing for the opposite testament. For me, that will be John 17:20-26. Neither of these can be sermons submitted for seminary coursework nor can they be reviewed by the faculty. The assigned text must be preached in a congregational setting as part of an actual worship service. This service is to be recorded and the video is to be submitted along with the paperwork. This will get evaluated by a sub-committee of the candidacy committee and I will meet with that group on April 12 to discuss it. Incidentally, I delivered my candidacy sermon on December 2 and it went very well.
2. The candidate must obtain a recommendation for candidacy from a church council that can best attest to their readiness for ministry. I have requested this from Seymour CRC here in Grand Rapids where we’ve been attending for the last several years.
3. The candidate is encouraged (not required) to submit a profile form to the Pastor-Church Relations Office. This is a lengthy form that provides all types of information about the candidate including what types of positions they may be interested in, employment history, statement of faith, what size church they are interested in, what their vision for ministry is, and many other things. Included in this is a reference form that is to be distributed to five people who evaluate the candidates ministry strengths by picking 12 from a list of about 45 characteristics. Churches can request this information to help them in the vetting process of calling a pastor.
4. The candidate must submit a statement of faith and a “Statement of Reason” for pursuing ministry.
5. The candidate must submit a biographical sketch form that gathers basic demographic information.
6. The candidate must sustain an oral comprehensive exam administered by the seminary in conjunction with the candidacy committee. This is a 45-minute oral interview in which a panel of two professors and one pastor interview the candidate to determine sufficient competency in a variety of areas such as biblical knowledge, church history, theology, and pastoral care. These interviews are scheduled for the second week of March.
This all takes place during the final year in addition to the regular coursework for the M.Div program. Assuming the candidate successful completes all these requirements by their various due dates and satisfactorily completes the M.Div. program at Calvin Theological Seminary (defined by the Candidacy Committee as having at least a 2.85 GPA) the candidate will then be ready to be declared eligible for a call by synod. I’ll discuss the jump from candidacy committee to synod next time.