Feeling a Call to Ministry?

The Commission on Preparation for Ministry

Welcomes You to a Time of Discernment with the Presbytery of Tampa Bay

This page is meant to help you navigate the major steps to ordination. Women and men who feel called to reformed Christian ministry within the Presbyterian Church (USA) will find the key milestones here.

Please note that this contains introductory material only — all current rules, paperwork, and deadlines are stipulated in the current editions of the CPM Handbook, the Advisory Handbook PCUSA, and the curriculum of your chosen seminary.


Governing Documents
The Presbyterian Church (USA) publishes its organizing principles and rules for operating “in good order” in the current edition of the Constitution: The Confessions, Part I and The Book of Order, Part II (2017-2019). See especially G-2.06 PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY, 34-36.

The Presbytery of Tampa Bay follows procedures detailed in the current CPM Manual (updated November 2017) available online.

It is the Inquirer’s and Candidate’s responsibility to keep their personal file up to date with the Presbytery of Tampa Bay. Most of the milestone events in the years of discernment are marked by the completion and filing of required forms.
FORM 1A Application to be enrolled by Presbytery as an Inquirer+
FORM 1B Questions for Reflection+
FORM 1C Financial Planning for Theological Education+
FORM1D Session Evaluation and Recommendation++
FORM2A Report of consultation regarding application+++
FORM 2B Covenant Agreement and Inquirer Release+++
FORM 3 Pre-consultation report on development areas+
FORM 4 Report on Consultation+++
FORM 5A Application to be Enrolled by Presbytery as a Candidate+
FORM5B Session Recommendation for Enrollment as Candidate++
FORM 5C Report of Consultation to become a Candidate+++
FORM5D Covenant Agreement and Candidate Release+++
FORM 6 Summary Report of Final Assessment
+=inquirer; ++=home session; +++=CPM
See page 17, CPM Manual

– The CPM Chair maintains the official files for all persons under care

The Commission on Preparation for Ministry
is charged by the larger church to make an informed decision about the inquirer’s suitability for ordered ministry.

Clearly, we share a central role in assuring congregations that persons who are certified ready for ordination are sincerely motivated to serve Jesus Christ, and have demonstrated wisdom and maturity of faith, leadership skills,
compassionate spirit, honest repute, and sound judgment.

We Care

  • about your spiritual development
  • about your health and about your emotional and physical well being
  • about your financial independence and freedom from debts that often attend higher education*
  • about your approach to challenging ministries and challenging persons who may seek your pastoral help
  • about your skills and sensibilities in clinical settings, hospitals, and hospices
  • about your innovations in creating new ways to witness to Jesus Christ in the 21st Century
  • about your awareness of mutual support from fellow ruling elders, from sessions, from counselors and mission leaders

* the Presbytery maintains an Indebtedness policy and seeks to connect persons under care to sources of financial aid. See the current edition of the Indebtedness Policy.

Being “Under the Care” of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay
It is important that those who are to be ordained as teaching elders receive full preparation for their task under the direction of the presbytery. For this purpose, a presbytery shall enter into covenant relationship with those preparing to become teaching elders and with their sessions and congregations.
G-2.0601 Nature and Purpose of Preparation

From the CPM Handbook:
We understand that your journey toward ordination can only be initiated, sustained, and brought to fullness by the grace of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is the mission of the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (“CPM”) to be a well-informed resource for potential candidates for ministry, and to encourage men and women as they navigate the particular requirements of the Book of Order; but always in the context of our shared journey as followers of the way of Jesus.

Each “Inquirer” (first year) and each “Candidate” under our care (usually in years 2 and 3) will be assigned a commission member, your “liaison”, to assist you as an advocate to the commission, and as a personal support contact. This person will be in touch with your sponsoring session and with the CPM chair. While we expect you to keep your liaison informed about your progress and your concerns, we also will reach out to you, usually

Advanced Professional Study

  • of Your Faith
  • of the Bible
  • of the Reformed Christian Church
  • of Theology
  • of Congregational Life
  • of Sacraments
  • of Pastoral Care
  • of Issues in Church and Society

In most cases, persons seeking ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) will attend one of the following accredited seminaries:

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Austin, Texas
Columbia Theological Seminary
Decatur, Georgia
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
Dubuque, Iowa and online
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky
McCormick Theological Seminary
Chicago, lllinois
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton, New Jersey
San Francisco Theological Seminary
San Anselmo and Pasadena, California
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Atlanta, Georgia
Union Presbyterian Seminary
Richmond, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina
Seminaries Related to the PC(USA) by Covenant Agreement
Auburn Theological Seminary
New York, New York
Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico