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On Friday, General Synod called for a clearer path for commissioned pastors to become ministers of Word and sacrament.

Delegates voted to approve a meeting of the Commissioned Pastor Advisory Team and the board of trustees of the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency to “clarify a more seamless path from commissioned pastor training to the Approved Alternate Route process.”

This recommendation was brought to synod by the Commissioned Pastor Task Force.

Commissioned pastors are individually commissioned for a specific ministry need. That might mean serving as a church staff member, church planter, or hospice worker, or in any other area of ministry that the classis deems appropriate to the training and gifts of the commissioned pastor.

Commissioned pastors are elders who serve under the jurisdiction and within the boundaries of a particular classis, and who have completed a training and study program approved by the classis.

The Approved Alternate Route (AAR) allows ministry candidates to become eligible for ordination without receiving a master of divinity degree, provided a number of requirements are met as outlined in the Book of Church Order. The training required for the AAR is more extensive than the training for commissioned pastors.

Additional recommendations on the subject of commissioned pastors were referred to commissions for further study; those recommendations addressed changes to the Book of Church Order that would allow commissioned pastors to participate in higher assemblies, such as regional synods and General Synod.

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