Commissioned Pastors: Book of Church Order

Chapter 1. The Government
Part II. The Classis

Article 17. Commissioning and Supervision of Commissioned Pastors

Sec. 1. A commissioned pastor is an elder who is trained, commissioned, and supervised by a classis for a specific ministry within that classis that will include the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments. The commission shall be valid for the period of assigned service.

Sec. 2. A consistory or governing body may recommend a confessing member of a Reformed church to the classis as a candidate to become a commissioned pastor.

Sec. 3. Upon acceptance of the consistory’s application on behalf of a candidate, the classis shall approve and supervise a training plan for that person. The classis shall satisfy itself that the candidate exhibits ministry competence in 1) maturity of faith, 2) personal integrity, 3) understanding of the Old and New Testaments and biblical interpretation, 4) Reformed theology, 5) church history, 6) knowledge of and adherence to the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America (the Government, the Standards, and the Liturgy), 7) nature and administration of the sacraments, 8) ability to preach, 9) capability to minister within the church, and 10) understanding of and adherence to pastoral ethics and practices.

Sec. 4. In satisfying itself concerning a candidate’s ministry competence, the classis shall employ criteria established by the General Synod Council.

Sec. 5. Upon satisfaction by the classis of the candidate’s ministerial competence, the classis shall identify the specific form of commissioned service appropriate to the gifts and training of the candidate. When the classis receives an invitation for a ministry it deems appropriate for the candidate, the classis shall 1) authorize the ministry, 2) approve a contract, and 3) commission the candidate to the authorized ministry to the extent of the contract.

Sec. 6. After a classis approves a candidate for commission to an authorized ministry, the classis shall appoint a time and place for a commissioning service at a regular or special classis session. The service shall utilize a liturgy approved by the General Synod. The Declaration for Commissioned Pastors shall be made orally by the candidate in the presence of the classis as part of that order for commissioning.

Sec. 7. The classis shall assign a mentor for each commissioned pastor for the period of training and ministry.

Sec. 8. The commissioned pastor shall be authorized to preach the Word and celebrate the sacraments. The classis may authorize the commissioned pastor to any or all of the following functions:

a. Serve as presiding officer of the consistory at its request and may be appointed supervisor of that consistory.
b. Preside at the ordination and installation of elders and deacons.
c. Perform a service of Christian marriage when approved by consistory and subject to state and provincial law.

Sec. 9. The commissioned pastor shall be a member of classis during the period of commissioned service, but shall not serve as an elder delegate.

Sec. 10. The classis shall evaluate the performance of the commissioned pastor at least annually.

Sec. 11. Upon completion of the authorized ministry by a commissioned pastor, the classis shall provide to that person a written statement of the training received and the ministry that was performed.

Sec. 12. The commissioned pastor shall remain a member of a local church, but is amenable solely to the discipline of the classis as set forth in Chapter 2, Part I, Article 3 of the Book of Church Order, for the period of commissioned service.

Sec. 13. The classis shall submit to an annual review by its regional synod of the processes used by the classis for commissioned pastor selection, preparation, commissioning, support, and supervision.