The Candidates and Credentials Conference

The 71st (2004) General Assembly directed the Committee on Christian Education to hold a Candidates and Credentials Conference periodically as a way to encourage interaction between the Candidates and Credentials Committees of the OPC’s presbyteries. At the conferences, representatives from the OPC’s 17 presbyteries share ideas about handling examinations and oversight of men who come under the care of their presbytery or are licensed to exhort congregations.

The Candidates and Credentials Conference gives aid to each presbytery’s Candidates and Credentials Committee as the members examine men seeking to become ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The 2010 Candidates and Credentials Conference was held at Grace Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio. In the first half of the conference, presbytery representatives met with instructors of the Ministerial Training Institute of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to give feedback on the MTIOPC program after its first decade. They highlighted what MTIOPC is doing well and suggested changes to make the program more effective.

During the 77th General Assembly, the GA denied an overture from the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario to amend chapters 21-23 of the Form of Government. GA directed the CCE to consider those concerns. At the meeting, presbytery representatives offered input on those chapters related to the overture to members of the CCE who were present.

At the 2007 conference in Fort Worth, Texas, Danny E. Olinger, CCE general secretary, spoke on “Raising Up the Next Generation of OPC Ministers.” With plenty of empty pulpits expected after the Baby Boomer generation retires, the OPC will need many new ministers. Yet the quality of ministers ought not to be sacrificed for quantity, Olinger said. Incumbent upon Candidates and Credentials Committees is to uphold the Scripture and Confession and Catechisms of the OPC in the examining and ordaining of gospel candidates.

In a talk entitled, “Faith and Learning in the Presbyterian Ministry,” CCE President James Gidley spoke about the increased frequency of educational exceptions for candidates for licensure and ordination throughout the history of the OPC. Candidates seek exceptions primarily because they lack competence in Hebrew, have less than three years of seminary, or lack a college degree. His survey through history reveals the problem is not new, with our forefathers dealing with similar exceptions.

In his talk, “The Value of Ministerial Fellowship in Developing Younger Ministers in the Presbytery,” Gary Davenport, regional home missionary for the Presbytery of the Southwest, urged seasoned ministers to offer fellowship to newly ordained ministers. He reflected on the affectionate relationship between Paul and a younger Timothy.

The last speaker, John Fesko, chairman of the Candidates and Credentials Committee of the Presbytery of the Southeast, presented a draft of their presbytery’s "Preparation and Study Guide for Ordination in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church."

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