The Presbytery of Detroit is committed to providing the best possible leadership to all churches within its bounds. Teaching elder/ministers normally provide this leadership. However, one additional way of providing leadership is through the use of Commissioned Ruling Elders as provided in the Book of Order, G-2.10.A Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) is an ordained elder who is approved to perform pastoral functions not requiring ordination as a teaching elder/minister and is currently a member of a congregation of the Presbytery of Detroit and has been for six months or more. This person may serve in a full-time or part-time, salaried, or volunteer position. They have been called by God and affirmed by their Session and received appropriate training in accordance with the Book of Order, G-2.1002, and under the supervision of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM). The CRE is commissioned by the Presbytery to serve a particular congregation in the Presbytery of Detroit when invited by the Session of that congregation, recommended by the Committee on Ministry (COM), and approved by the Presbytery.
- Belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and acceptance, understanding of, and faithfulness to the questions and vows of a CRE. (Book of Order, W-4.4003
- Membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and faithful, regular participation in its worship and service.
- Demonstrated leadership in the church as an Elder.
- Demonstrated pastoral ability.
- Commitment to personal spiritual growth through prayer, Bible reading and devotions.
- Acceptance, understanding of, and faithfulness to the ethical standards of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as set forth in the documents, Life Together in the Community of Faith: Standards of Ethical Conduct for Ordained Officers in the Presbyterian Church (USA), adopted by the 210th General Assembly and the Presbytery’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.
- Satisfactory completion of a mandatory background check and pre-employment screening.
To further develop these gifts for service in a particular field of ministry, the Presbytery, through the CPM and COM, will guide the CRE Trainee through a program of preparation for service.
The individual seeking to become a CRE receives endorsement from the Session of his/her own church and is evaluated and received by the CPM.
II LEARNING PHASE
With the authorization, guidance and support of the CPM, the CRE Trainee will engage in study and preparation for service as an Eligible Commissioned Ruling Elder (ECRE).
III COMMISSIONING PHASE
After having completed the program of training, preparation and discernment with the CPM and after the CPM designates the trainee an ECRE and ready to receive a commission to a field of service or congregation, he/she is recommended to COM. At the recommendation of the COM and with the approval of the Presbytery, the ECRE will be commissioned to a particular congregation or field of service for ministry as a Commissioned Ruling Elder.
- Completes the Commissioned Ruling Elder Application Form [see Appendix] and presents this application to his/her Session for endorsement and then to the CPM for review and examination.
- The Session of the home church of the CRE
- Examines the CRE applicant and recommends him/her to the CPM for further evaluation and preparation toward becoming a CRE. [See the relevant procedures as outlined for Inquirers in the Book of Order, G-2.0605]
Encourages, supports, and prays for the CRE applicant throughout his/her time of preparation for service.
- May offer to provide financial assistance for class work or study.
- May offer opportunities for service and preparation for ministry through working in the congregation under the supervision of the pastor(s).
THE PRESBYTERY CPM
- Provides materials to congregations to help elder members consider pursuing CRE training and commissioning.Receives and reviews applications from CRE aspirants and, if appropriate, guides them through training and preparation for a CRE. The CPM will follow the current process through which they receive and examine those seeking to enroll as Inquirers in preparation for ordained teaching elder/ministers and in accordance with the requirements of the Book of Order, G-2.0601 and 2.0603-2.0603-2.0607, a.b. including examining a CRE applicant regarding they personal faith and motives for seeking the commission. The CPM will require a career assessment by Midwest Ministry Development Service or an approved alternative upon request of the CRE applicant submitted to his/her liaison. This must be completed within one year or the Seeking Phase shall be terminated.
- The CPM will ask the applicant to address inadequacies in any area before recommending further preparation. Upon satisfactory completion of this phase of seeking and exploration, the applicant will be authorized by the CPM to move on to the next phase of learning and preparation as a CRE Trainee (CRET).
- During this phase, the CRET will acquire competency and skills in Bible, Reformed theology and sacraments, Presbyterian polity, preaching, leading worship, pastoral care, and teaching (Book of Order, G-2.1002) under the supervision and direction of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM).
- The trainee, with the approval of the CPM, may take classes offered by the Presbytery and designated for CRETs; may enroll in a designated CRE training program offered by a college, seminary, or another Presbytery as approved and recommended by the CPM.
- Competency in these skills will be demonstrated through a comprehensive written exam and the delivery of a sermon as arranged and administered by the CPM. [See the Sample of Possible Examination Questions for Commissioned Ruling Elder Trainees in the Appendix.]
- Reviews available CRE training programs from other presbyteries, seminaries, colleges, etc. and provides an authorized list of available programs to candidates. CPM will review and approve independent study arrangements and other Presbytery-sponsored training programs as requested by a CRE Trainee.
- Will meet with the CRET at least annually through this phase to review his/her progress and determine other needs or future plans.
- Will provide a written final examination, hear a sermon preached by the trainee, and interview they for readiness to be commissioned to a field of service or congregation. (Book of Order, G-2.1002). Upon successful completion of the final exam and interview by the CPM, the CPM will designate the CRET an Eligible Commissioned Ruling Elder (ECRE) and ready to be considered for commissioning and will notify the COM.
The CRET will complete a required 480 hour Field Education experience to be completed within one
year of its start following approval of a written plan submitted to the CPM. (see Appendices 5 and 5-A)
The Presbytery CPM :
The Session (and/or the PNC) of a Congregation Employing a CRE:
- The Session or Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) consults with the COM considering the appropriateness of seeking a CRE to serve their congregation and/or the particular field of service.
- The Session or PNC reviews PIFs, interviews the ECRE candidates, checks references, and through the COM arranges for a neutral pulpit for the candidate if they wish to consider commissioning that candidate.
- If the Session, at the recommendation of the PNC, invites the ECRE to be employed by the congregation, the Session will draw up a Covenant Agreement between the candidate and the congregation specifying duties to perform, the time expectations, and terms of the employment including compensation, benefits, vacation, study leave, etc. [See Covenant Agreement with Commissioned Ruling Elders in the Appendix.]
- The Session will then request COM to recommend to the Presbytery that the ECRE candidate be commissioned to the congregation or field of service as a Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE)as specified in the Covenant Agreement. The Agreement will be reviewed annually by the COM including any subsequent salary adjustments during the term of the commission.
- The Session will request the COM to recommend to the Presbytery that the CRE be authorized to perform certain additional designated responsibilities. (Book of Order, G-2.1001)
- The Session will consider a service of recognition welcoming the CRE to their congregation and acknowledging the Presbytery’s Service of Commissioning. [See the Service of Recognition of Commissioning for Congregations in the Appendix.]
- At the conclusion of the initial term of the commission, if the Session of the church and the CRE desire to renew the commission, they will make a request to the COM three to six months prior to expiration for renewal. A COM representative will review the commission in a meeting with the CRE, the Session, and its moderator (if not the CRE), and will make a recommendation to the COM for action by the Presbytery.
- administer the Lord’s Supper;
- administer the Sacrament of Baptism;
- moderate the session of the congregation under the supervision of, and when invited by, the moderator of the session appointed by the Presbytery;
- have voice in meetings of the Presbytery;
- have a vote in meetings of the Presbytery;
- perform a service of Christian marriage when invited by the session or other responsible committee and when allowed by the state;
- may be appointed by the Presbytery as moderator of the session to the church to which they is commissioned.
Upon recommendation by the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) to the Committee on Ministry (COM), the designated ECRE candidate may complete a Personal Information Form (PIF) [available at www.clc.pcusa.org] and be considered for commissioning to a specific congregation or field of service as a Commissioned Ruling Elder.
This commission shall be valid for a period up to three years as negotiated by the Session, COM, and the CRE and approved by the Presbytery. It may be renewed at expiration or terminated at any time at the discretion of the Session, the CRE, or COM, with approval of the Presbytery.
The CRE may perform pastoral functions not requiring ordination as a teaching elder/minister and in agreement with the Session such as teaching, visitation of members in home or hospital, visitation of prospective members, supervising Sunday school, leading music or choir, prayer meetings or study groups, or conducting funerals. If commissioned to a congregation, the CRE will ordinarily be the primary leader of worship and preacher for the congregation.
Upon the written request of the Session to the COM, and with the recommendation of the mentor and supervisor, the CRE may also be authorized by the Presbytery to carry out other functions allowed in Book of Order, G-2.1001:
THE ECRE CANDIDATE
- Will complete a Personal Information Form (PIF) for distribution to the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) or Session of a congregation considering the service of a Commission Ruling Elder. [This form can not be entered online but will be distributed by paper or email.]
- Will only distribute his/her PIF to congregations in the Presbytery of Detroit as recommended and approved by the COM to receive PIFs of CREs.
- Will be prepared to interview and preach for sessions or PNCs of congregations that may be considering CREs.
- Once commissioned to a particular congregation or field of service, the CRE should see that they meets regularly with his/her assigned mentor and supervisor. An annual consultation and review between the CRE and the mentor and supervisor will be reported to the COM.
- The CRE is encouraged to participate in continuing education and may consult with they mentor and supervisor for particular recommendations.
- Consults with congregations considering the appropriateness of seeking a Commissioned Ruling Elder to serve their congregation and advises congregations calling candidates on appropriate levels and forms of compensation and benefits.
- Maintains a listing of ECRE candidates available to be commissioned by the Presbytery and, when appropriate with a congregation, recommends particular available ECRE candidates to the congregation. (Book of Order, G-2.1001)
- Upon request of the Session of a congregation, the COM recommends to the Presbytery that an
Committee on Preparation for Ministry Policies
Eligible Commissioned Ruling Elder candidate be commissioned by the Presbytery to a particular congregation or field of ministry, based on the approved Covenant Agreement with Commissioned Ruling Elder. [See Covenant Agreement in the Appendix.]
- Annually reviews the Covenant Agreement between the CRE and the congregation.
- At the request of the Session, the COM may recommend that the Presbytery authorize the CRE to perform particular additional responsibilities. (Book of Order, G-2.1001) The COM may require some additional training prior to recommending the granting of these additional responsibilities.
- Recommends to the Presbytery at the request of the Session that a CRE commission be terminated or renewed when appropriate. (Book of Order, G-2.1001)
- Assigns a mentor and supervisor to the CRE and through the mentor and supervisor annually reviews the work of the CRE. (Book of Order, G-2.1004) [See Annual CRE Review Form in Appendix.]
- Provides for a regular periodic gathering of CREs serving in congregations for support, education, and spiritual enrichment.
- Provides a model Covenant Agreement for use by congregations calling CREs. [See Covenant Agreement with Commissioned Ruling Elders in the Appendix.]
- Provides resources to congregations for services of recognition of the CRE and the commissioning by Presbytery. [See the Service of Commissioning for CREs in the Presbytery of Detroit and the Service of Recognition of Commissioning for Congregations in the Appendix.]
- At the conclusion of the initial term of the commission, if the Session of the church and the CRE desire to renew the commission, they will make a request to the COM three to six months prior to expiration for renewal. A COM representative will review the commission in a meeting with the Session, its moderator and the CRE and will make a recommendation to the COM for action by the Presbytery.
- Will act upon the recommendation of the COM to commission or terminate a commission of a CRE to a particular congregation.
- Will provide a Service of Commissioning at a meeting of the Presbytery to commission the CRE to that congregation. (Book of Order, G-2.1003) A Service of Recognition will be held at the commissioning church without undue delay. [See the Service of Commissioning for CREs in the Presbytery of Detroit and the Service of Recognition of Commissioning for Congregations in the Appendix.]
- The Session of the CRE’s Sponsoring Church
- The Session of the sponsoring or home church of the CRE may wish to consider recognition in worship of the CRE at a time when its congregation is gathered for worship. [See the Service of Recognition of Commissioning for Congregations in the Appendix.]
- The mentor and supervisor will be a teaching elder/minister who is a member in good standing of the Presbytery of Detroit who is appointed by the COM to a relationship with the CRE. (Book of Order, G-2.1004). The mentor and supervisor may be the pastor serving as moderator of the Session of the commissioning congregation. When the moderator of the Session is not an installed pastor of the commissioning congregation or when the CRE is serving as moderator of the Session as approved by the Presbytery, the mentor and supervisor may be another pastor assigned by COM.
- The mentor and supervisor will meet regularly with the CRE and at least annually with the CRE and members of the Session of the commissioning congregation in conducting the annual review of the work of the CRE. The results of this annual review will be communicated to the CRE, the commissioning congregation, and the COM.
- The Committee on Preparation for Ministry of the Presbytery of Detroit has determined the following appropriate use of self-designations for individuals called to service in the commissioned ruling elder ministry:
- Commissioned Ruling Elder Trainee (CRET) designation when in the preparation process
- Eligible Commissioned Ruling Elder (ECRE) designation when all preparation processes are complete and recommendation to the
- Committee on Ministry for commissioning has occurred.
- Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) designation reserved only for a ruling elder serving a commission to a validated ministry in our presbytery. When not doing so, the individual is identified once again as an Eligible Commissioned Ruling Elder (ECRE).
- Revised September 2009, September 2010, January 2011, November 2011, December 2011, March 2012, March 2013.