Yesterday I attended my last meeting as an elder member of our Presbytery's CPM, or Committee on Preparation for Ministry. For you non-Presbys, this is the committee that shepherds and monitors the progress of inquirers and candidates as they move through seminary and ordination exams, toward being ready to receive a call. It's supposed to be a three-year commitment, but I've been there for four. I'm tired.
No one feels neutral toward the CPM experience. I would bet that someone reading this has just had a visceral reaction to the idea of CPM and now feels a bit less kindly disposed toward me because I've served on one. Seriously. I have read a sermon by one of our candidates that discussed the dark valleys God leads us through, including "sickness, death of loved ones, and CPMs."
I am well aware that--as PC(USA) materials advise us--that to these folks we represent the Church, "with the authority and power to ordain and not to ordain". And I have some other ideas about people's projection onto us of their experiences with withholding parents, etc. But I admit I was stunned recently when a candidate complained about how cold and uncaring we are, how critical, etc. That just doesn't match my experience of the people I've served with on this committee, their love for Jesus and for the church, their compassion, and their dedication to this shepherding task. The majority of our candidates have not given us that sort of feedback--in fact, a number have expressed appreciation--but the ones that have felt hurt are the ones I remember most clearly. Now, granted, some of them have been angry because we would not countermand parts of the Book of Order or toss PC(USA) polity out the window at their request. I think we have stuck to our guns pretty well at times when that mattered.
Gee, do you think I may have some issues to look at, too?
The vast, vast majority of the women and men whose progress I have been privileged to oversee in these years are intelligent, energetic, creative servants of Christ and the Church. They are the future of this denomination, and we are blessed in them. One is even a RevGalBlogPal! (Maybe more than one, for all I know!) I am glad I had this opportunity, and I have loved getting to know the ministers and elders with whom I have served. But frankly, it's time for a break.