Resourcing Leaders & Transforming Lives

Commission on Preparation for Ministry – Steps to Inquirer


Steps to Inquirer

In order to begin the process of ordered ministry and apply to become an Inquirer of the Presbyterian Church (USA),  there are requirements you need to fulfill. Below is a brief outline of the essentials of this stage:

STEP 1 – Understand the Process

Talk to your Pastor(s) and let them know you are considering ministry. It may be more comfortable to begin the conversation by telling your call story to this supportive friend or colleague. With this person, you can begin to think about appearing before your session to begin the formal process called Inquiry.

This process may seem overwhelming at the beginning, but the more you know about ministry and the Church, the smoother your journey of discernment will be. Please review all the information found here and on the denominational website detailing the Preparation for Ministry process. Much of the information provided will help guide you through the entire application process. There are articles listed below to provide further exploration of this stage.

STEP 2 – Submit Paperwork

Find out how long you’ve been a member of your current congregation. In this phase, you are required to have been an active member of a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation for at least 6 months within the Presbytery of the Pacific.

You will need to complete Forms 1A-2B during the Inquiry phase of preparing for ministry. Click here to view all Inquirer Forms. Pacific Presbytery requires one additional question for Inquirers to fill out that is not included in the forms from the Office of General Assembly. Download Form 1B-1. Submit them to your Clerk of Session prior to the interview you schedule with your session. This is how they will learn about you and your call to ministry. Take your time and answer all of the questions thoughtfully and carefully. Computer-generated or typed responses are required. The content, the presentation of your paperwork, as well as the thought and care put into answering each question will determine the initial impression you make to both your session and the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (CPM). The CPM are the elected members of the Presbytery who are responsible for shepherding inquirers and candidates for ordination as Teaching Elder in the PC (USA) through the process of discerning and embracing their call to ministry.

STEP 3 – Appear before your Session

After you have submitted these forms to your Clerk of Session, set a date to meet with the Session of your church. It is important that they hear your call story. When they endorse you for Inquiry, they are committing to support your exploration into professional ministry. They will need to fill out the Session Evaluation and Recommendation, Form 1D, which includes the selection of an elder to be a liaison between you and your Session and submit it Rev. Linda Culbertson, General Presbyter at the Presbytery of the Pacific. Both you and the Moderator of the Session also need to sign the Covenant Agreement and Inquirer Release, which is Form 2B.

STEP 4 – Send paperwork to the Presbytery

After your endorsement by your Session, the following documents must be on file with the presbytery office before your Inquiry interview can be scheduled. Your file becomes a permanent part of your formal PC(USA) record.

  • Inquirer Forms – Make sure that they are completely filled out and then ask the clerk of your Session to mail them to the Stated Clerk in the Presbytery office. Pacific Presbytery requires one additional question for Inquirers to fill out that is not included in the forms from the Office of General Assembly. Download Form 1B-1. The Clerk shall fill out Form 1D on behalf of the Session and should include it with the other forms.
  • Criminal Background Check Release Form – In addition, there is a form that allows a member of the Pacific Presbytery staff to conduct a criminal background check. This is standard policy of presbytery and cannot be waived. This will not cost you anything. Be advised that if there is a positive hit on your background check, it does not necessarily preclude you from coming under care of Pacific Presbytery. In such an event, a member of presbytery staff and/or the moderator of CPM will have a conversation with you regarding any past incident(s) of concern.
  • Post-high school transcripts – You will need to have every institution of higher learning (community college, college, university, graduate studies, seminary, etc.) send an official transcript to the presbytery office for inclusion in your file.

All of these documents need to be on file at the presbytery no later than 10 days prior to your interview.  The one exception to this requirement is the report based on your psychological evaluation, which will be sent directly to the Presbytery by the evaluator. The next step explains the psychological evaluation requirement.

STEP 5 – Psychological Evaluation

All individuals who wish to come under care of Pacific Presbytery as Inquirers are required to undergo a psychological evaluation. It is up to you to schedule your appointment.  You will receive information about the process from Presbytery staff.

A note about confidentiality: Your psychological evaluation and your criminal background check results are kept securely at the presbytery office. Your evaluation will be copied for the committee to read on the day of your interview. Following your interview, the copies are destroyed and the original is returned to its secure location.

STEP 6 – Schedule your Interview

After you have submitted all your paperwork and have set a date for your meeting with the psychological services provider, call the presbytery office to set a date for your CPM Inquiry interview.

Once you become an Inquirer, you will be assigned a CPM liaison who will help guide you through the rest of the process.