Josh: 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Seminary & The Ordination Process

Josh Kerr —  October 22, 2013

Photo Mar 02, 5 54 52 PM

(This is part of the What We Wish We Knew Before Our First Ordained Call series.)

My colleagues in blogdom are writing about things they wish they knew in their first calls.  Having not experienced a first pastoral call, I chose another topic: seminary and the ordination process (dramatic music here).

1.  I wish I knew that there was a fair amount of paperwork for each step of the process.  Sometimes tracking everything down and getting it into the right hands feels like herding cats.

2.  I wish I knew that seminary study and ordination steps are two completely different processes, and that I would need to stay on top of both in order to seek a call upon graduation.  This isn’t the case in all denominations, and I think the PC(USA) would benefit from an evaluation of that relationship.

3.  I wish I knew that the requirements of different presbyteries vary wildly.  Some are very rigorous while others are pretty lax.  I’m grateful that my home presbytery sticks to denominational recommendations, and provides a great mix of affirmation and accountability.

4.  I wish I knew that Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) isn’t just an internship as a chaplain.  Folks who don’t do CPE are missing out.  Do it.

5.  I wish I realized how affirming and supportive my home congregation would be.  They’ve been amazing in every sense and I hope I can appropriately thank them somehow.  I also wish many of my friends here had such support.

6.  I wish I realized how helpful my relationships with recently ordained and long-time pastors would prove to be.  It has been very nice to always have folks to ask questions.

7.  I wish I knew how few people would leave seminary ready to receive a call.  Some drag their feet in the process, some are delayed because they switch presbyteries, and others are just unsure where they feel called.

8.  I wish I knew how much I would obsess about the language in my statement of faith.  Seriously, quit making it harder than it ought to be.

9.  I wish I knew how much I would enjoy committee and presbytery examinations.  I’m very much an extrovert and love to talk, but I know it’s still pretty weird.

10.  I wish I knew where I would end up.  Is there a congregation willing to call me as a pastor?  Lord, help them and me.

(This is part of the What We Wish We Knew Before Our First Ordained Call series.)

Josh Kerr

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Josh is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Perry, OK and completed his seminary studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is a father, husband, and hater of cliches.