Ministerial Formation Certification Agency: Q & A

1. What is Reformed Candidates' Supervision and Care (RCSC)?

The Reformed Candidates' Supervision and Care was the creation of the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency (MFCA) Board of Trustees at its February 2000 meeting. Its purpose is to oversee the "Certificate of Fitness for Ministry" process for RCA candidates who have not completed the process through one of the two RCA seminaries or the Approved Alternate Route (AAR). It is meant to continue the ministry of the Theological Education Agency (TEA) without becoming lost in the many functions and larger responsibilities of the MFCA. It will be housed on the west coast so as not to loose the original concern for the western part of the RCA, which does not have a denominational seminary to serve the churches there.

2. Why is there a need for both the RCSC and the MFCA?

The task of overseeing 70 - 100 RCA candidates at non-RCA seminaries is a major responsibility that takes focused attention and much time. The MFCA role beyond what the RCSC does is also a major effort that requires specialized attention and time. The separation of the two functions is necessary in order to do the job properly and to allow for needed new ventures in identifying, recruiting, preparing, and deploying the ordained leadership of the RCA.

3. How does the RCSC fit into the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency?

The RCSC is a specific service of the MFCA and provides an ordination process that parallels that of the two RCA seminaries. It facilitates the ordination process for those in Master of Divinity programs. The members of the Certification Committee assist in evaluating each individual for the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry in a similar fashion to the faculties at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) and Western Theological Seminary (WTS). The General Synod Professors of Theology (Fourth Office) serve in all three areas with some overlap occurring as the Certification Committee has Fourth Office holders from both NBTS and WTS. The MFCA Executive Director works directly with the candidates and is meant to advocate on behalf the individuals not attending RCA seminaries.

4. Who developed the program and the process?

Upon the recommendation of the General Synod Council (GSC) the Task Force for the Standards for Professional Ministry developed the MFCA concept with the idea of creating a home for theological education, creating alternate routes toward ordination that will serve the diverse sectors of the RCA, and developing standards that will insure the high quality of leadership needed for the RCA of the future. The General Synod of 1998 voted to approve the concept of the MFCA with the belief that the church would step up to provide funding for this new effort.

5. Why did the General Synod and the RCA leadership endorse these new ventures?

Several years ago the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America recognized the need for offering theological education at non-RCA seminaries across the continent through TEA, as well as NBTS in New Jersey and WTS in Michigan. Now the time has come for the RCA to provide a means to coordinate the three arms of theological education and add to it alternative and creative ways of preparing and credentialing its ordained clergy.

6. How will the RCA be served?

Not only will all churches benefit from the new agency, but all candidates who desire to be ordained ministers of Word and sacrament will benefit from the efforts of the MFCA and the RCSC. The RCSC will guarantee that those who cannot go to one of our two seminaries will nonetheless be able to receive the full attention of the denominational support network as they prepare for ministry. This is designed intentionally to serve areas west and north of Michigan, where there is no RCA seminary.

The MFCA will be responsible for taking the lead in identifying, recruiting, preparing and deploying highly qualified pastors for all the RCA churches--those already established as well as those yet to be planted. The MFCA will creatively seek to bring uniformity to the procedures followed for preparing candidates and open up effective paths for communication between candidates, classes, local churches, and seminaries. Educating and informing all those involved in the process will be seen as a priority of the program.

The majority of the funds have already been secured by the denomination, mostly through assessments specifically targeted for theological education. The remainder of the funds will be raised from contributions. Individuals, local congregations, and classes will be asked to make this special investment in the future leadership of the RCA. The amount required is approximately $125,000 per year. We ask that pledges be made for the next three years so that the ministry can move ahead and seek new ways to fund the ministry on a permanent basis.