Commissioned Lay Pastors
"The Commissioned Lay Pastor (CLP) broadens the work we do–in smal
churches, in medium sized churches, and in large churches. We are training people to serve in rural and urban areas, for prison ministry, for college and hospital chaplaincy programs, for new and creative leadership all through our denomination.Seeking to serve as a Commissioned Lay Pastor is not to seek “back door to ordination.” It is to be commissioned to perform a specific ministry in a specific place and time. Let us remember our polity and our heritage, The Book of Order reminds us that the “purpose and pattern of leadership in the church in all its forms of ministry shall be understood not in terms of power, but service...” (G-14.0103)." From the CLP Handbook. The Certified Lay Pastors Handbook is a comprehensive document created by the PC(USA) to articulate the range of ministires to which the Certified Lay Pastor may be called. In addition the Handbook lays out the history of the CLP designation within the PC(USA) as well as the requirements for becoming certified.
Providence Presbytery and the other four Presbyteries in South Carolina have combined efforts to create the Lay School of Theology. Through its Winter and Spring, week-end long workshops, the Lay School provides education and training to those seeking to become Commissioned Lay Pastors.
This joint venture of the five South Carolina presbyteries is offered twice yearly on weekends in spring and fall and meets at White Oak Conference Center located between Chester and Winnsboro. Sessions begin with dinner on Friday and conclude after the worship service on Sunday. Students stay at motel-type accommodations and are served meals in the dining hall. General sessions, classes, and worship take place in the adjacent classroom building.
Students are lay persons who desire in-depth study of Bible, church history, or theology. Faculty members are ministers and Presbyterian educators, active or retired, with particular interest in this enterprise. Several courses are offered at each session (both core courses and electives).
Two "tracks" are offered: Lay Enrichment Track (LE) and the Lay Pastor Track (LP). The LE Track is for ordained or non-ordained lay persons. The LP Track is for ordained elders interested in acquiring the necessary training for eligibility to become commissioned lay pastors (Book of Order G-14. 0801) and requires endorsement by the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery. LP Track students are assigned a take-home test or essay to further document their participation and understanding of the class just attended. Lay Enrichment Track students have no additional obligations either prior to or following the class. Course material in class is the same for both.
Students receive a "certificate" (LE Track) or "diploma" (LP Track) upon completion of the cycle of core courses (New Testament, Old Testament, Church History, Reformed Theology, Polity, Worship and Sacraments, Pastoral Counseling). An additional course, Preaching, is required for LP students. To complete the full cycle will require 7 or 8 sessions (in about 4 years).
Lay School of Theology:
More information about and registration for the Lay School of Theology is accessible on the web.
If you are feeling a sense of call to become a Commissioned Lay Pastor:
Speak with your pastor and share with her/him your sense of call
Contact your General Presbytery/Stated Clerk, Mark Verdery, at 1-800-922-1609/328-6269) or by
E-Mail. He will be happy to share with you the process you must follow to become a lay pastor in Providence Presbytery.