Commission on Preparation for Ministry

Welcome to the CPM!

Welcome to the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) Portal for the Presbytery of Donegal. 

The Commission on Preparation for Ministry guides the official preparation process for women and men seeking to become Teaching Elders/ Ministers of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). In the Presbytery of Donegal the CPM seeks to be companions in this journey of intentional discernment while supervising those who are to be ordained through two preparation phases—inquiry, exploring the call to ministry; and candidacy, preparation to serve the church.

We hope the information contained here serves as a helpful guide for current and future inquires and candidates as well as their sessions, congregations, and others who support them. 


Where We Meet

Meetings take place at the Presbytery Office, 1861 Charter Ln. Suite 125, Lancaster, PA 17601.

Official correspondence with the CPM, including submission of forms and paperwork, should be directed to Christine Wells, Presbytery Executive Assistant:

  •        Email:     
  •        Phone: 717-392-4035    
  •        Mailing Address: PO Box 10054, Lancaster, PA 17605

Questions, updates, concerns, and other CPM needs can also be directed to the CPM Chair or an inquirer/candidate’s individual liaison.


Theological Roots

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is firmly grounded in the Reformed tradition in its relationships with men and women who feel themselves called by God to be teaching elders serving in the ministries of the Word and Sacrament. Both in exploring with these persons their sense of vocation and in all subsequent procedures leading to ordination, the Reformed understanding of the church underlies what the Book of Order calls “full preparation” for ministry (G-2.0601).

As Reformed Christians, Presbyterians understand the church as a community called into being by Jesus Christ. It is Christ who gives the church its faith and life, its unity and mission, its offices and ordinances, and Christ who is its head in all things (F-1.02).

Presbyterians believe in “the ministry of all the baptized”—that all church members, regardless of their occupational choice, are engaged in ministry. That is their Christian vocation (G-1.0304). Some among them may be called by the Holy Spirit, through the church, to serve as teaching elders fulfilling the functions of the ministry of the Word and Sacrament. That ministry, then, is one among many occupations through which men and women express their God-given interests and abilities in life and daily work. Response to this calling, as to every other, is approached through a careful process of exploration and testing carried on within the community of faith during which gifts and motivations are evaluated in light of the needs of the church and the world.

The essential role of teaching elders is set forth in both the Bible and in the church’s constitutional documents. Among its key concepts are the following:

  • Ordered ministries are a gift of God to the church so that all God’s people may be equipped for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  • Teaching elders in particular equip all the baptized for their ministry by proclaiming the good news in Word and Sacrament, teaching faith/modeling faithfulness, joining with deacons in care for people, and together with ruling elders ensuring that the church’s life is governed in an orderly way (cf. G-2.0501).
  • The church actively seeks and ordains persons whose gifts and abilities equip them for the ministry of the Word and Sacrament (G-2.0104); if a person ordained to this ministry is later called by God to other work, the church can release him or her from ordained office (G-2.0507).
  • A person experiences God’s call to ministry privately as an inner urgency. The church, however, experiences that call publicly as it affirms that individual’s gifts for ministry and confirms God’s call through the acts of ordination and installation (G-2.0103).

Seen from this theological vantage point, the preparation for ministry process is an intentional engagement between the individual and the church for the purposes of discerning a person’s calling and developing her or his gifts for ministry. Since we believe that God calls and gifts every Christian in their baptism not only to relationship with God but to ministry with and for God’s people, we are never trying to discern “if” a person in the process “has a call to ministry.” That is a given. Their baptism itself is “a call to ministry.” What this process is about is discerning whether a particular person has both the call and the gifts to perform the functions of ministry of Word and Sacrament on behalf of the church as a teaching elder.

Preparing for ministry of Word and Sacrament is a process of discernment. Sometimes individuals seek the confirmation of the community that they have heard God’s call clearly. Other times the community calls forward those who have the gifts it needs. Either way, discernment involves utilizing both spiritual disciplines and gifts to find consensus regarding whom God is calling to use their gifts in specific ministries centered in the Word and Sacraments on behalf of God’s people. The process succeeds whenever individuals are placed where their gifts meet with the call of the community and most fundamentally with God’s call to serve the needs of others, even if that place of ministry does not entail the functions of ministry of Word and Sacrament as understood within the Presbyterian Church.

*This section is taken as excerpts from the “Advisory Handbook on Preparation for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.,)” Copyright © 2013 by Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly PC(USA). Pgs 20-23.