Order for Commissioning a Commissioned Pastor

The 2010 General Synod adopted R-34 from the Commissioned Pastor Task Force. R-34 directs the worship commission "to create a liturgy for the commissioning of commissioned pastors to be developed in consultation with the Commissioned Pastor Advisory Team" (MGS 2010, p. 145). The commission crafted the liturgy at the October 2010 meeting and submitted it to the advisory team for its feedback. A few minor edits were suggested, and these were implemented by the commission at the February 2011 meeting.

"A commissioned pastor is an elder who is trained, commissioned, and supervised by a classis for a specific ministry within that classis that will include the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments" (BCO Chapter 1, Part II, Article 14, Section 1). He or she is an elder commissioned to serve in a specific role within a congregation, the classis, or a specialized ministry. Their leadership roles are wide and varied—church planters, executive pastors, Christian educators, youth leaders, etc. The new liturgy is not an ordination service—these elders have already been ordained. The purpose of the new liturgy is to commission them into specific ministries.

The commission based its new commissioning liturgy on the "Order for Commissioning a Minister of Word and Sacrament into a Specialized Ministry" (Worship the Lord: The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America, pp. 163-169). It is essentially an adaptation of an approved liturgy for commissioning an ordained person to a specific ministry. The commission made editorial changes for the commissioned pastor liturgy that reflect two important differences:

1. A difference in office: this liturgy is intended for the commissioning of an elder, not a minister of Word and sacrament.

2. A difference in the terms of the commission: the commissioned pastor's commission is valid for the period of assigned service, is under contract, and is subject to annual review by the classis (BCO Chapter 1, Part II, Article 14, Sections 1, 5, and 9).

This will hopefully bring clarity and consistency to the act of commissioning ordained leaders for ministry in the RCA.

The 2011 General Synod approved the Order for Commissioning a Commissioned Pastor and commended it for use in the church.