Theological Examining Committee

Chairman, Rev. Frank A. Hitchings III
Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, 423-821-4528, frank@lmpc.org

RESPONSIBILITIES

The Theological Examining Committee is responsible for:
(Standing Rules of TVP, chapter 5-2.3.D)

  • Examining and presenting to Presbytery Teaching Elders who are seeking to transfer into the TVP;

  • Examining candidates for licensure and ordination or dismissing them, at their request, to the care of another presbytery.

MEETING with the COMMITTEE

The committee meets once a quarter, normally on the first or second Monday of the month immediately prior to the TVP’s stated meeting. Therefore, the committee meets in March, June, September, and December. Always contact the committee chairman to confirm the date and place. You must get permission from the committee chairman before coming to the committee meeting, and you must have permission from the committee before going to the floor of presbytery.The meetings of the committee are always held at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church. Click here for directions.

UPCOMING IMPORTANT DATES

Fall

August 3, 2020: Views Statement must have received approval by this date in order to take any exams by the August 17 paperwork deadline.
August 17, 2020: Paperwork due by 5 p.m.* (See below for complete list of paperwork due)
September 14, 2020: TEC Meeting  | Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
October 13, 2020: TVP Meeting | Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church, Knoxville

Winter

October 26, 2020: Views Statement must have received approval by this date in order to take any exams by the November 9 paperwork deadline.
November 9, 2020: Paperwork due by 5 p.m.* (See below for complete list of paperwork due)
December 7, 2020: TEC Meeting | Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
January 9, 2021: TVP Meeting | Camp Vesper Point, Soddy Daisy (directions here)

Spring

January 18, 2021: Views Statement must have received approval by this date in order to take any exams by the February 1 paperwork deadline.
February 1, 2020: Paperwork due by 5 p.m.* (See below for complete list of paperwork due)
March 1, 2021: TEC Meeting | Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
April 17, 2021: TVP Meeting | Covenant Presbyterian, Oak Ridge

Summer

April 19, 2021: Views Statement must have received approval by this date in order to take any exams by the May 3 paperwork deadline.
May 3, 2021: Paperwork due by 5 p.m.* (See below for complete list of paperwork due)
June 7, 2021: TEC Meeting | Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
July 13, 2021: TVP Meeting | First Presbyterian, Fort Oglethorpe, GA

Fall

August 2, 2021: Views Statement must have received approval by this date in order to take any exams by the August 15 paperwork deadline.
August 15, 2021: Paperwork due by 5 p.m.* (See below for complete list of paperwork due)
September 13, 2021: TEC Meeting | Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
October 12, 2021: TVP Meeting | location TBD

Contact the committee chairman at least six weeks before the committee meeting in order to make sure you have enough time to complete all forms and exams. All paperwork must be received by the committee chairman 30 days prior to the committee meeting.

*The required paperwork includes:

    • candidate information form
    • views statement (Any candidates planning on taking exams must have their views statement approved by the committee chairman before beginning exams. Candidates should allow adequate time for the approval process. The final deadline for having a views statement approved is two weeks prior to each paperwork deadline. In order to have the views statement approved by the deadline, candidates should plan on submitting their views statement as soon as possible in order to begin the approval process. Each candidate should contact the committee chairman, TE Frank Hitchings, in order to discuss the timeline for getting his views statement approved.)
    • written exams (licensure and ordination)
    • written sermon (licensure) NOTE: you must check with TEC chairman, TE Frank Hitchings, to have your passage approved before turning in your sermon. See Candidates for Licensure and Ordination for further details.
    • your letter of good standing (if a transfer)
    • terms of your call (for ordination or transfer)
    • any required papers (ordination)
    • transcript (ordination)
    • everything required for the internship notebook (ordination)

See the sections on licensure, ordination, and transfer for links to forms and lists of all requirements. If all of the paperwork is not received 30 days prior to the committee meeting, it is very likely that you will need to wait until the next quarterly meeting to come before the committee. Candidates transferring from outside the PCA need to contact TE Frank Hitchings (frank@lmpc.org) for paperwork requirements. The paperwork deadlines for candidates coming from outside the PCA will be the same as for any other candidates.

If you need to take exams (licensure and ordination) please know that most candidates need to spend one to six months working through the study guides for each set of exams. In addition, paperwork for ordination can take longer than other paperwork.

TEACHING ELDER TRANSFERS from inside the PCA

Teaching Elders seeking transfer into the TVP are required to follow BCO 13-6 and 20-9,10. They also, in accordance with BCO 21-1, “ordinarily shall not move on to the field” to which they are called until they have “been examined and received by Presbytery.”
All Teaching Elders seeking transfer to TVP should contact the TEC Chairman TE Frank Hitchings. All paperwork is due by 5 p.m. the Monday 30 days prior to the TEC meeting (see Upcoming Important Dates). Please send all paperwork to both TE Hitchings (frank@lmpc.org) and to his assistant, Jennifer West (jennifer@lmpc.org).

You will need to provide:

  1.  a Candidate Information Form. (NOTE: This is a fillable form. Please fill out electronically, save, and attach to an email.)
  2.  a TVP Views Statement with differences noted. Your views statement should be carefully proofed for content, grammar, and spelling, and you may want to enlist someone with knowledge, wisdom, and good proofing skills to aid you in this endeavor. This views statement will be sent not only to the members of the Theological Examining Committee, but also (eventually) to every member of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery.
  3. proof of good standing in your current presbytery.
  4. an official, signed copy of your new call. This call should be formatted with the correct language from the BCO (Appendix J) and include details regarding yearly vacation and study leave, in addition to salary and benefits being offered.

CANDIDATES for the GOSPEL MINISTRY (coming under care) (NOTE: The Pastoral Care Committee now processes applications for coming under care of the TVP.)

PLEASE NOTE: The Theological Examining Committee no longer processes applications for coming under care. The Pastoral Care Committee now examines men who desire to come under care of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery.

To become a Candidate for the Gospel Ministry, an applicant must follow BCO 18, which requires membership in a local TVP church for at least six months before being recommended to the Presbytery by the sessin of the TVP church of which you are a member.

Candidates coming under care will be examined by the TVP Pastoral Care Committee. In addition to appearing before the Pastoral Care Committee, applicants for candidacy must also appear before the TVP to give their testimony, their call to the ministry, and answer any questions the Elders put to them.

Those interested in becoming candidates should contact the chair of the Pastoral Care Committee, TE Sam Brown, sam@trinityprescleveland.com.

DEADLINES FOR PAPERWORK
Forms need to be submitted approximately one month prior to each TVP meeting.

March 1 for the Spring TVP Meeting
June 1 for the Summer TVP Meeting
September 1 for the Fall TVP Meeting
December 1 for the Winter TVP Meeting

You will need to provide:

  1.  a Candidate Information Form (NOTE: this is a fillable form. Please fill out electronically, save, and attach to an email.)
  2.  a Session Recommendation Form, endorsed and signed by the moderator and clerk of the session at the church where you have been a member for at least six months. Please read through the form carefully, ask someone on your Session who knows you well to fill it out and sign it. The Session of your church then needs to approve your coming under care of the Session, and recommend you to the TVP. The moderator and the clerk of the Session must sign the form as well. You are responsible for following these steps before applying to the TVP to come under care.

CANDIDATES for LICENSURE and ORDINATION

Those interested in Licensure and/or Ordination should contact the TEC Chairman, TE Frank Hitchings. Our goal is to present you before TVP as a man ready to gain the respect and confidence of Presbytery as one suitable for Gospel ministry. For a summary of the process, see Licensure-Ordination Process

When you submit paperwork, please send it to both TE Hitchings (frank@lmpc.org) and his assistant, Jennifer West (jennifer@lmpc.org). All paperwork is due by 5 p.m. on the Monday 30 days prior to the next TEC meeting (see Upcoming Important Dates). In order to begin exams, you must have received approval of your views statement. The final deadline for approval is two weeks prior to each paperwork deadline. In order to have the views statement approved by this deadline, candidates should plan on submitting their views statement as soon as possible in order to begin the approval process. Every candidate should contact the committee chairman, TE Frank Hitchings,  in order to discuss the timeline for getting his views statement approved. If your views statement does not receive approval two weeks before the paperwork deadline, you will need to wait until the following quarter to take your exams and come before the committee. See upcoming dates for views statement deadline and deadlines for all other paperwork.

For BOTH LICENSURE AND ORDINATION you will need to provide:

  1. a Candidate Information Form (NOTE: This is a fillable form. Please fill out electronically, save, and attach to an email.)
  2. TVP Views Statement with differences noted. Your views statement should be carefully proofed for content, grammar, and spelling, and you may want to enlist someone with knowledge, wisdom, and good proofing skills to aid you in this endeavor. This views statement will be sent not only to the members of the Theological Examining Committee, but also (eventually) to every member of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery. NOTE: In order to take any exams, your views statement must have received approval by the chairman of the Theological Examining Committee. You will not be able to begin your exams if your views statement still needs editing for clarity or editing in order to correct extensive and/or major errors in writing, grammar, or spelling. Also, if your views statement is deemed to need more than minor editing, you will need to work on it with your pastor or mentor and re-submit it in the next quarter. 

For LICENSURE, you will need to complete the following:

  1. English Bible written exam
  2. Theology written exam
  3. Book of Church Order (BCO) written exam
  4. Written sermon (see below)

Requirements for written sermon: Before submitting your sermon, please check with TE Frank Hitchings  about the passage you would like to use. In accordance with BCO 19-2, this sermon should embody “both explanation and application.” If delivered orally, the sermon should last no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. The sermon must be in a format that the committee can read. Please do not send a video or audio link, your notes taken as you prepared the sermon, or an outline that is so brief that the main points cannot be discerned. If you are referring to an illustration that you are going to use, please give enough details that your use of the illustration can be understood. Once your sermon has been accepted by the committee, you will preach this sermon either before the committee on the day of the TVP meeting or before the entire Presbytery.

For ORDINATION (in addition to the requirements for licensure), you will need to complete exams on the following subjects:

  1. Church History
  2. History of the PCA
  3. Sacraments
  4. Languages (Greek and Hebrew) For information on our language standards for both the language exams and the exegetical papers, click here.

You will also need to provide the following:

  1. an official transcript (not a copy) from an approved seminary
  2. three papers: one theological, two exegetical (Greek and Hebrew). These papers may be ones you wrote in seminary. These papers should follow the appropriate format for scholarly papers with footnotes (or endnotes) and bibliography included.
  3. an official, signed copy of your call. This call should be formatted with the correct language from the BCO (Appendix J) and include details regarding yearly vacation and study leave, in addition to salary and benefits being offered.
  4. a completed internship notebook with the materials required by our TVP Internship Plan.

Our guides for what is expected from candidates for licensure and ordination are provided by the PCA Book of Church Order, chapters 18-22, which specify particular areas of examination.  For ordination, a candidate must also complete educational requirements which meet “the Assembly’s approved curriculum” (BCO 21-4), carefully defined in the PCA’s Uniform Curriculum (see Minutes of the Sixth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, June 19-23, 1978, pages 86-87 & 214-217).

The Theological Examining Committee of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery has a study guide for licensure. See the Resources and Documents section.

With all this in mind, it is wisest for a man to make contact with the Theological Examining Committee as early as possible and not to presume that he will be recommended to the floor of Presbytery for examination after only one meeting with the Committee.

RESOURCES and DOCUMENTS

  1. Candidate Information Form (NOTE: This is a fillable form. Please fill out electronically, save, and attach to an email.)
  2. TVP Views Statement Form with differences noted. Your views statement should be carefully proofed for content, grammar, and spelling, and you may want to enlist someone with knowledge, wisdom, and good proofing skills to aid you in this endeavor. This views statement will be sent not only to the members of the Theological Examining Committee, but also (eventually) to every member of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery. Please fill out electronically, adding space as needed. The views statement should be no longer than four pages.
  3. TVP Session Recommendation Form
  4. TVP Licensure Exam Study Guide
  5. TVP Internship Plan
  6. A Brief History of the PCA (The TVP also recommends familiarity with Sean Michael Lucas’ For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America.)
  7. TVP Church History Exam Study Guide

QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED by SEARCH COMMITTEES

WHAT REQUIREMENTS DOES THE TVP HAVE FOR TRANSFER CANDIDATES?

Answer:  The Tennessee Valley Presbytery follows the Book of Church Order (13-6, 20-9, 20-10) in its requirements for transfer candidates. The list of required forms may be found on this website as well as the dates by which all paperwork must be submitted.

SHOULD OUR SEARCH COMMITTEE ASK POTENTIAL TRANSFER CANDIDATES FOR A TVP-FORMAT VIEWS STATEMENT EARLY IN THE SEARCH PROCESS?

Answer: Absolutely! The Theological Examining Committee recommends that every search committee ask a potential transfer candidate for a TVP-format views statement as early in the search process as possible. Not only will the information obtained in a views statement be extremely helpful to a search committee, but the candidate will also be more likely to be able to meet the TEC paperwork deadline if a call is extended.

ARE THE DEADLINES FOR PAPERWORK HARD AND FAST?

Answer: For the most part, yes. Exceptions to the deadlines will be considered on a case-by-case basis only when there are special circumstances. Every effort should be made to submit all required paperwork by the deadline.

WHAT SHOULD OUR SEARCH COMMITTEE DO IF WE ARE CLOSE TO BEING READY TO CALL A CANDIDATE AND THE DEADLINE FOR PAPERWORK IS NEARING?

Answer: First, get in touch with the chairman of the Theological Examining Committee immediately to let him know of the possibility of a call. Secondly, the search committee is encouraged to ask a potential candidate to go ahead and submit a candidate information form and views statement to the chairman of the Theological Examining Committee by the deadline, even when a call package has not been finalized and the congregation or Session has not yet voted. The committee can then be notified of a potential transfer candidate, and the views statement can be sent out to committee members with the name redacted. This will allow sufficient time for the committee to read and consider the views statement.

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR THE THEOLOGICAL EXAMINING COMMITTEE TO MEET WITH A CANDIDATE AT A DIFFERENT TIME THAN THE REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETING?

Answer: It’s possible, but very difficult. Because members of the Theological Examining Committee do not all live in the same city, it is quite challenging to work out the scheduling of an additional meeting.

IF OUR SEARCH COMMITTEE IS UNABLE TO MEET THE DEADLINE FOR AN UPCOMING MEETING, WILL WE NEED TO WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETING?

Answer: Most likely, yes, though occasionally an exception can be made. Please contact the chairman of the Theological Examining Committee, Frank Hitchings, at frank@lmpc.org if you believe there are special circumstances that would give grounds for making an exception.

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR OUR SEARCH COMMITTEE TO GET SOME IDEA OF THE REACTION THE TVP MIGHT HAVE TO CERTAIN VIEWS?

Answer: Yes, search committees are welcome to submit questions they may have about a candidate’s views on a particular subject to the TEC committee chairman. He will then be able to share the past history of the TVP in regards to that view, or he may choose to submit the question regarding a particular view to the entire Theological Examining Committee. After the committee’s input, the chairman can then give feedback to the search committee as to whether there might be some concerns regarding a particular view.

PASTORS TRANSFERRING FROM outside the PCA

Pastors who are seeking to transfer into the TVP from a denomination other than the Presbyterian Church in America should contact TE Frank Hitchings at frank@lmpc.org. Please note that all paperwork (candidate information form, views statement, completed written exams, call, letter of good standing, transcripts, and sermon) will be due by the paperwork deadline (see upcoming dates).

Tennessee Valley Presbytery (Presbyterian Church in America)
C/O Covenant Presbyterian Church
8451 E. Brainerd Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421

tel: 423-899-5377
email: tvpclerk@gmail.com