The ordination process for RCA candidates attending non-RCA seminaries.
The Reformed Candidates' Supervision and Care services of the MFCA exists especially for Reformed Church in America (RCA) candidates completing a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) degree at a non-RCA seminary. The MFCA was inaugurated in 1998 by the General Synod to oversee our candidates studying at, or having graduated from other seminaries. If we think of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Western Theological Seminary as agencies through which the RCA has historically carried on the task of theological training, then the RCSC function of the MFCA may be regarded as a third partner in this task.
The MFCA is committed to help you meet the RCA requirements for ordination to the office of minister of the Word and sacrament. We are available as well to serve RCA students who are not on the ordination track. We recognize the significance of those who are being equipped to serve Christ in forms of ministry not requiring ordination.
This handbook is designed for candidates who are under classis care and are pursuing the M.Div. degree. It will familiarize you with the RCA requirements and the program of MFCA. You are responsible for knowing the contents of the handbook and following its directions. Failure to do so will jeopardize your certification. The MFCA staff are available for clarification and assistance as needed.
Your interest in preparing for the ministry of Jesus Christ is of great significance to us. You are important to the future ministry of the church. It is our purpose to support and guide you in fulfilling God's purpose for your life.
For more information, contact Cor Kors (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Ministerial Formation Certification Agency, Reformed Church in America, 8303 Alondra Blvd., Suite C, Paramount, CA 90723.
THE ORDINATION PROCESS
Minister of Word and Sacrament
The Reformed Church in America
The Local Church
The individual, as an active-confessing member of the congregation (minimum of one year), goes to the consistory and requests to be enrolled as a candidate for ministry. The consistory then applies to the classis on behalf of the applicant.
Upon the consistory's recommendation, the candidate is asked to appear in person before the classis or its committee for an interview. Areas of discussion will include the applicant's character and behavior; physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and educational qualifications; and the motives which led the applicant to seek the ministry as a vocation. If the classis is satisfied the applicant is received "under care" and enrolled as a candidate for ministry.
At this point the "dual-track" system kicks in where the classis shares responsibility for the process with either the RCA seminary or the MFCA.
The Certificate of Fitness for Ministry
Immediately following the enrollment of a candidate for the ministry, the classis shall petition the General Synod on behalf of the candidate for a Certificate of Fitness for Ministry. Such a petition must be received a minimum of twenty-four months prior to the time it is to be given final disposition by the General Synod through the board of trustees of the RCA seminary or the MFCA.
Seminary Education and the Master of Divinity
The candidate needs to earn a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from an ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accredited institution. The classis is responsible for the selection of the seminary by the candidate and must approve the selection. Acceptable seminaries must be either one of the two RCA seminaries, New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey or Western Theological Seminary in Michigan; or, it must meet the following criteria:
1. An institutional structure and course of study fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
2. Instruction that is demonstrably compatible with Reformed theology as expressed in the three RCA doctrinal standards.
3. Location near RCA congregations whose opportunities for regular participation lead to the creation and growth of RCA identity, loyalty, and collegiality.
4. Diverse field education assignments in RCA teaching churches under the supervision of RCA ministers.
5. A high commitment to pastoral ministry.
6. Availability within its curriculum of at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and a program of spiritual direction.
7. Recognition of the RCA Standards of Unity as a valid statement of Christian faith for members of the RCA and no requirement that RCA students assent to additional doctrinal standards or statements.
The M.Div. must include the following courses in order to meet RCA requirements:
As the candidate completes the seminary studies the classis will examine the candidate in the areas studied...
Once the candidate has received the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry and passed the classis exams for licensure and ordination she or he will be eligible to have the classis ordain upon the receipt and acceptance of an official call into a specific ministry.