Authorized Lay Preacher/ Commissioned Lay Pastor Program
Presbytery of West Virginia
According to G-14.0560 in the Book of Order, “the commissioned lay pastor (CLP) is an elder of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is granted a local commission by the presbytery to lead worship and preach the gospel, watch over the people, and provide for their nurture and service… Such an elder is selected by and receives training approved by the presbytery.” “Authorized Lay Preacher” is a term used by this presbytery to designate those who are trained to serve as occasional pulpit supply preachers, having either completed the Authorized Lay Preacher portion of the program (Level Two as described below) OR the Commissioned Lay Pastor training (Levels Two and Three) though not currently commissioned to serve a particular church as a lay pastor. Deacons may also serve as Authorized Lay Preachers. In this presbytery, the Authorized Lay Preacher/Commissioned Lay Pastor Coordinating Team is responsible for preparation, training and oversight of this program, working with and through the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and the Committee on Ministry. Below is an overview and description of the preparation process which is required to those who would seek to serve as Commissioned Lay Pastors and Authorized Lay Preachers in the Presbytery of West Virginia.
Overview of Program
The Authorized Lay Preacher (ALP) and Commissioned Lay Pastor (CLP) preparation program in the Presbytery of West Virginia is a three level program. Level One is the Lay Academy Program which includes one-day courses in Biblical Interpretation, Reformed Theology, Church History, Presbyterian Polity, Worship, Christian Education, and Stewardship and Mission. These courses are open to any interested person and will be taught in several different places within the presbytery in order to facilitate participation. Persons may register for these courses on an interest basis, but all of these courses must be completed in order for a person to move to the ALP or CLP program (Level Two(ALP) and Level Three(CLP)).
Lay Academy courses will be offered on two or three Saturdays a month, at three different sites in the presbytery, from January-May and September-November, beginning in January 2010. This will allow for making up classes in the event of a time conflict.
To advance to ALP/CLP Preparation, successful completion of the Lay Academy is a requirement. Exceptions to this requirement are:
- A seminary degree (MDiv, MACE) from a PC(USA) seminary or certification as a Christian Educator within the past 10 years satisfies the Lay Academy completion requirement
- Documented successful completion within the last 10 years of PC (USA) seminary courses or Certified Educator courses on specific topics will satisfy the requirement for those courses.
The registration fee for the Lay Academy is $50 for all the courses, $10 for each individual course.
Moving to Level Two (Authorized Lay Preacher preparation)
Preparation to be an ALP/CLP in the Presbytery of WV is meant to be a growth experience, not only in education, but also in community, accountability, camaraderie and orientation to this Presbytery and its ministries in Appalachia. Because these are important aspects of the program, those who desire to be an ALP or CLP must participate in the Presbytery’s program for this preparation beyond the Lay Academy.
Any individual who wishes to enter the ALP/CLP program should complete an ALP/CLP application. The application deadline is September 1, 2010. Following receipt of the completed application, an interview will be scheduled with the ALP/CLP Coordinating Team.
Qualifications of Applicants which must be met for admission to the ALP and/or CLP program:
1. High school diploma or GED
2. Active membership for at least 2 years in the sponsoring PC(USA) congregation or other congregation in the Presbytery of WV
3. Ordination as an elder (ALP or CLP) or deacon (ALP only)
4. Endorsement by the Session and pastor/moderator of the church of membership
5. Three additional references from non-relatives
6. A satisfactory sexual misconduct disclaimer and background check
Additional expectations of applicants are:
1. Faith, as expressed by trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and belief in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve; acceptance of the Old and New Testaments as the authoritative witness to that faith; receiving and adopting the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of the Church;
2. Maturity as expressed by membership in the PC(USA) and faithful, regular participation in its worship and service; openness to new ideas and learning; reliability; compassion; skills in personal relationships such as well-developed listening skills; ability to relate to various age groups; and leadership skills;
3. A Christian life deliberately lived with integrity of word and deed; commitment to personal spiritual growth through prayer, Bible reading and devotion.
Should one wish to be considered for this program who does not meet all of the qualifications and expectations, the applicant should indicate this on the application form and it will be taken into consideration.
Successful completion of Level Two courses will fulfill the educational requirements for being an Authorized Lay Preacher. Areas of study include: preaching; worship leadership, design and music; biblical exegesis; Old Testament; New Testament; ethics; Reformed Theology; ministry in Appalachia and small churches; spiritual practices and faith development. These courses will require outside reading and assignments to be completed in advance of the classes.
Level Two courses will be offered January –May and September – November, 2011, at a site to be determined according to the geographic location of participants, with the possibility of moving around the presbytery. Courses will be held on a Friday night and all day Saturday once a month.
Moving to Level Three
Those who wish to advance to Commissioned Lay Pastor preparation will be required to complete a career evaluation and meet with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, prior to entering Level Three in January 2012.
Those who wish to complete Commissioned Lay Pastor preparation must complete an additional year of study in the areas of preaching; sacraments; Christian education; Polity; Leadership and Administration; and Pastoral Care. In addition to scheduled class time, there will be readings and assignments to be completed. During the summer of Level 3, a Practicum under the mentoring of an experienced pastor will be required.
Level Three Courses will be held January – September, 2012, including the summer practicum, again at a site(s) to be determined based on participants’ locations.
Successful completion of the educational component of the Authorized Lay Preacher or Commissioned Lay Pastor preparation program will entail active participation and presence at all classes, and completion of all assignments in a timely fashion. All Commissioned Lay Pastors will be required to participate in the Presbytery’s Sexual Misconduct Awareness Training.
While the primary focus of this program is to prepare persons as worship leaders in churches as occasional pulpit supply and as Lay Pastors in churches, successful completion of the educational requirements does not guarantee service as an Authorized Lay Preacher or Commissioned Lay Pastor. In addition to the educational requirements, successful completion of an examination by Committee on Preparation for Ministry, calls by churches and approval of calls by the Committee on Ministry must take place.
This program is not limited to those who wish to be ALPs or CLPs. Past participants have found this program to be valuable in nurturing their faith, helping them to be better leaders and teachers and in strengthening the ministry of Christ’s Church.
Cost of the Program
In addition to the cost of the Lay Academy (which is $50 for all seven courses), the registration cost per participant will be $75 for ALP preparation and an additional $50 for Commissioned Lay Pastor preparation.
Additional costs to participants will include the cost of textbooks, travel, career preparation, meals and lodging. Churches are expected to assist participants with a portion of the costs of this program, although they are requested not to cover the entire cost. Scholarships are available.
Opportunities for learning continue after successful completion of the educational requirements of the ALP/CLP preparation program. Those who serve as Commissioned Lay Pastors and Authorized Lay Preachers are encouraged to participate in continuing education. Possible offerings include: Festival of Faith; the Educator, Clergy, CLP Retreat; Congregational Development Committee offerings; Montreat Commissioned Lay Pastor Conference; and the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators(APCE) annual meeting, among others.
If you have any questions about any of the above information or the application process, please contact Susan Sharp Campbell, Associate for Educational Ministry, for the Presbytery. She may be reached at email@example.com or 304-645-4568.