Preparation for Ministry Complete

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While in academia, Carol McLaughlin began to question her calling. Academics or ministry? She took her thoughts and questions to her pastor, Rev. Matt Robbins-Ghormley. Thus began a five year journey which recently culminated in the Presbytery of Olympia certifying Carol as ready to submit her credentials to churches seeking a pastor. 

Bev Hatter, Carol's Session representative at Trinity, reflects on her walk with Carol down this beautiful and difficult path.

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One of the perks of serving on Session is the opportunity to walk with a candidate for ministry in their journey to realizing their call.  Five years ago, Carol McLaughlin was pursuing a doctorate in religion at George Fox Evangelical Seminary (now Portland Seminary) while teaching religion classes there.  Carol had been undecided about whether to continue teaching or to apply to the Committee for the Preparation of Ministry (CPM) through the Presbyterian Church. She loved the academic challenge and richness of the teaching profession but wasn’t sure which path would better use her unique gifts. I was given the opportunity to serve as Carol’s Session liaison with the CPM while Carol went through the process of readiness and discernment.

The ordination process is lengthy and demanding.  In addition to the educational component of completing a Master in Divinity degree, there are written exams in the areas of Bible content, theology, Bible exegesis, polity and worship and sacraments.  It is necessary to complete a psychological evaluation, submit character references, complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education and meet for regular consultations with the CPM. All the while, her faith and commitment were growing and changing and challenging.

Carol was well prepared to meet many of the challenges of the ordination process, however there were unplanned obstacles and events that occurred in her life.  In a very short span of time Carol and her family experienced the deaths of her father-in-law and brother-in-law, the serious car accident of her elderly mother-in-law and the premature births of twin grandchildren.  Any one of these difficult experiences could have derailed Carol’s process. Because of her maturity, faith and resilience, Carol took the time to care for self and family while she persevered in the process of her faith walk.  The CPM has recently approved her as a Certified Candidate for Ministry within the PC(USA). Carol is now invited to present her credentials to churches seeking a pastor.

I am grateful for this opportunity to sojourn with Carol while representing Trinity in its support of a highly qualified candidate for the ministry.  Please pray along with me as Carol faces her next steps in discerning her call.