In view of the specialised skills and knowledge necessary to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a Lay Preacher (set out below) and in the light of the role that Lay Preachers may be called upon to play within the Church, a more structured preparation process and some specific training is required. These guidelines provide information relating to these more specialised requirements and should be read in conjunction to the basic OLM Guidelines.
- As with the other categories of ministry covered by the Order of Lay Ministries (OLM), you can become a Lay Preacher ifyou have been a member of the UPCSA for at least 1 year; have not undergone discipline in any court of the UPCSA during the last 5 years; are already actively involved in, or are planning to become actively involved in this particular Lay Ministry and the Session/ Church Council of your congregation supports your application. (It is important to note that being a Lay Preacher in the OLM is a requirement to becoming a CDE.)
- MATTERS PARTICULAR to Lay Preachers are:
a)Lay Preachers exercise a spiritual ministry through the conduct of public worship andthe preaching of the Gospel in any congregation throughout the UPCSA. Lay Preachers may conduct funeral and/or memorial services but may not perform baptisms or dispense the Sacraments except where specially authorised by the Presbytery to do so.
b)Membership of the OLM as a Lay Preacher is not subject to annual verification.
c)It is permissible for a Lay Preacher to wear apreaching gown but not a clerical collar or stoles when conducting aservice of worship.
d)The services of a Lay Preacher as pulpit supplyare voluntary, but a Congregation receiving such service is required,through the relevant financial authority, to cover travelling andincidental expenses.
e)A Lay Preacher may be employed as StatedSupply, under an Interim Moderator, in a vacant charge. (See para 16:150.)
f)A Lay Preacher, who is also an Elder, may be appointed as a CDE. (See para 16.133-144.)
- IN ADDITION TO following the procedure set out in the OLM Application Process, candidate Lay Preachers need to undergo appropriate training and be evaluated by the Presbytery. The costs of this training need to be carried by the Candidate unless the Presbytery or Local Congregation chooses to contribute. The Presbytery, in consultation with the administrator of the Order of Lay Ministries, needs to:
a)Ensure that the candidate has some training in Theology and the Biblical Texts.
(It needs to be noted that institutions change their courses often and so the courses recommended below may have changed names – please liaise with the administrator.)
Possible courses are:
- TEEC Certificate of Competence in Theology– Modules 201 Introduction to Old Testament and 221 Introduction to New Testament (only)
- Bethel Bible Course
b)Ensure that the candidate has some training in preaching. Possible courses are:
- Pretoria University Centre for Contextual Ministry course on Preaching (either Basic or Advanced level)
- TEEC Christian Proclamation: Preaching course (at Award, Certificate or Diploma level)
- Presbytery-based training using material provided by the OLM.
c)Evaluate the candidate’s understanding and competence in the conduct of public worship.
- The Presbytery and the candidate shall arrange a trial service and three members of Presbytery (a minister and two elders) shall be appointed by the Presbytery’s Mission & Discipleship Committee to attend, observe and evaluate the service conducted by the candidate and provide a report with a recommendation to the Presbytery. If the evaluation team recommends that the candidate is not ready to serve as a Lay Preacher in the OLM, they should provide practical recommendations. (There is a service evaluation checklist available from the Administrator of the OLM.)
Where a candidate has already completed alternative training, the Presbytery (in consultation with the OLM administrator) needs to decide whether such alternative training is sufficiently equivalent to the recommended courses.
Where a candidate has already been admitted to a similar Order in any one of the UPCSA’s CUC partners, no additional training will be required. The Presbytery may dispense with the trial service if it is comfortable that the candidate is well-acquainted with Presbyterian liturgy and practice with regard to conducting worship services.
- UPON SATISFACTORY COMPLETION of the necessary training, a candidate is interviewed by the Presbytery (or by a Committee of Presbytery so empowered) in order to determine the candidate’s suitability with special reference to
a)Personal life and conduct;
c)Knowledge of Holy Scripture;
d)Acceptance of the Statements of Faith in Chapter 2, in the way the Preamble to that Chapter lays down, believing the substance of the faith they express;
e)Acknowledgement of the order and discipline of this Church.
- WHERE POSSIBLE candidate Lay Preachers should follow the standard application process for admission to the OLM before completion of their task-specific training, to enable the Presbytery to provide whatever support may be necessary. Admission to the OLM will, however, only take place when the general OLM requirements and the Lay Preacher specific requirements have been met.