21. The Licensure of Candidates for the Gospel Ministry

  1. To preserve the purity of the preaching of the Gospel, no man is permitted to preach in the pulpits of Evangel Presbytery on a regular basis without proper licensure from the Presbytery having jurisdiction where he will preach. This license shall immediately become void if the Presbytery administers against him a censure of suspension from office or the sacraments, or deposition from office, or of excommunication. A ruling elder, a candidate for the ministry, a minister from some other denomination, or some other man may be licensed for the purpose of regularly providing the preaching of the Word upon his giving satisfaction to the Presbytery of his gifts and passing the licensure examination. (See also BCO 24.5 and BCO 24.6.)
  2. The examination for licensure shall be as follows:
    1. The candidate shall give a statement of his Christian experience and inward call to preach the Gospel in written form and/or orally before the Presbytery (at the discretion of the Presbytery).
    2. The candidate shall be tested with a written and/or oral examination by the Presbytery (at the discretion of the Presbytery) for his:
      1. basic knowledge of biblical doctrine as outlined in the Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
      2. practical knowledge of Bible content.
      3. basic knowledge of the government of the church as defined in the Book of Church Order.
    3. The candidate shall be examined orally before Presbytery for his views in the areas outlined in part b above.
    4. The candidate shall provide his written sermon on an assigned passage of Scripture embodying both explanation and application, and present orally his sermon or exhortation before Presbytery or before a committee of Presbytery.
    5. While our Constitution does not require the applicant’s affirmation of every statement and/or proposition of doctrine in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, it is the right and responsibility of the Presbytery to determine if the applicant is out of accord with any of the fundamentals of these doctrinal standards and, as a consequence, may not be able in good faith sincerely to receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this church as the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.
    6. Therefore, in examining an applicant for licensure, the Presbytery shall inquire not only into the candidate’s knowledge and views in the areas specified above, but also shall require the candidate to state the specific instances in which he may differ with the Confession of Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions. The court may grant an exception to any difference of doctrine only if in the court’s judgment the applicant’s declared difference is not out of accord with any fundamental of our system of doctrine because the difference is neither hostile to the system nor strikes at the vitals of religion.

    No Presbytery shall omit any of these parts of examination except in extraordinary cases; and whenever a Presbytery shall omit any of these parts, it shall always make a record of the reasons therefor, and of the trial parts omitted.

  3. If the Presbytery be satisfied with the trials of the applicant, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner. The moderator shall propose to him the following questions:
    1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the infallible Word of God, which is the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
    2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church as the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scripture?
    3. Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of the Church?
    4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery?
  4. The applicant having answered these questions in the affirmative, the moderator shall offer a prayer suitable for the occasion, and shall address the applicant as follows:

    In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by that authority which He has given to the Church for its edification, we do license you to preach the Gospel in this Presbytery wherever God in His providence may call you; and for this purpose may the blessing of God rest upon you, and the Spirit of Christ fill your heart. Amen.

    Record shall be made of the licensure in the following or like form:

    At_____________, the __________day of_______________, the ____________________Presbytery, having received testimonials commending _________________________, proceeded to submit him to the prescribed examination for licensure, which was met to the approval of the Presbytery. Having satisfactorily answered the questions for licensure, _____________________ was licensed by the Presbytery to preach the Gospel within the bounds of this Presbytery.

  5. The license to preach the Gospel shall expire at the end of four years. The Presbytery may, if it thinks proper, renew it without further examination. The licentiate must apply for renewal prior to expiration. If the license expires, the stated clerk shall report the expiration to the Presbytery and to the individual’s Session, and such action shall be recorded in the minutes. The procedures of BCO 21.2 must be followed for re-licensure and such fact shall be recorded in the minutes. The license may be terminated at any time by a simple majority vote of the Presbytery. The Presbytery shall always record its reasons for this action in its minutes.

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