MFCA Process Guide: Part Two, Step Three


The Candidate Care Committee (see explanatory note 3 on p. 23) is encouraged to provide guidance to all candidates, those attending a theological seminary in preparation for ministry or those seeking the Approved Alternate Route (AAR), whether or not they seek licensure and ordination. However, the committee gives specific attention to candidates who seek ordination as ministers of Word and sacrament, as follows:

A. The committee inquires into the applicant’s character and behavior; physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and educational qualifications; and the applicant’s motives for seeking the ministry as a vocation. Form I may be used to facilitate this process (see explanatory note 1 on p. 23).

B. The committee determines whether the use of psychological and vocational assessments would be helpful in its evaluation. The RCA seminaries and the MFCA can assist the classis in obtaining these assessments.

C. The committee gives guidance in the choice of a seminary or developing a program of study. Applicants should be encouraged to consider the advantages of preparation for ministry at the RCA seminaries, NBTS or WTS. The RCA seminaries are uniquely equipped to prepare a student for ministry in the RCA. When enrollment in a non-RCA seminary is anticipated, the action of the 1990 General Synod is to be followed:

To urge the classis to require that candidates who cannot attend an RCA seminary, choose a seminary that provides the following essential components of an adequate theological education for RCA ministry:

1. Academic Accreditation. The non-RCA seminary must be accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (BCO, Chapter 1, Part II, Article 9, Section 2b).

2. Compatible Theology. The non-RCA seminary should provide instruction that is demonstrably compatible with Reformed theology as expressed in the three RCA doctrinal standards.

3. Denominational Identity. The non-RCA seminary selected should be located near RCA congregations that provide opportunities for regular participation, leading to the creation and growth of RCA identity, loyalty, and collegiality.

4. Comprehensive Supervision. The non-RCA seminary should be able to provide diverse field-education assignments in RCA churches under the supervision of RCA ministers. 

The 1998 General Synod added three more guidelines (The Acts and Proceedings of the 184th Regular Session of the General Synod, p. 261):

5. Ministerial Formation. The non-RCA seminary must have a high commitment to pastoral ministry.

6. Clinical Pastoral Education. The non-RCA seminary must make available within its curriculum at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and a program of spiritual direction.

7. Doctrinal Friendliness. The non-RCA seminary must be willing to recognize the Standards of Unity as a valid statement of Christian faith for members of the RCA, and it must not require RCA candidates to assent to additional doctrinal standards or statements.

D. The committee recommends one of the following:

1. That the applicant be taken under care.
2. That action on the application be postponed.
3. That the applicant not be taken under care.

E. The committee transmits the completed application Form I to the stated clerk of classis.