Article 6 — Ordination and installation of ministers of the Word
A. Regarding those who have not served in the ministry before, the following shall be observed:
1. They shall be ordained only after classis has approved the call.
Classis shall approve the call:
a. upon satisfactory testimony concerning the soundness of doctrine and conduct of the candidate, attested by the consistory of the church to which he belongs; and
b. following a peremptory examination of the candidate with satisfactory results. This classis examination shall take place with the cooperation and concurring advice of deputies of synod.
2. For the ordination they shall also show to the consistory testimonials concerning their doctrine and conduct from the church(es) to which they have belonged since their preparatory examination.
B. Regarding those who are serving in the ministry the following shall be observed:
They shall be installed after classis has approved the call.
1. For this approval as well as for the installation the minister shall show good testimonials concerning his doctrine and conduct, together with a declaration from the consistory with the deacons and from classis that he has been honourably discharged from his service in that church and classis, or from the church only in case he remains within the same classis.
2. For the approval of a call of those who are serving in one of the churches with which The Free Reformed Churches of Australia maintain a sister relationship a colloquium shall be required which will deal especially with the doctrine and polity of The Free Reformed Churches of Australia.
C. The approval of a call shall require written certification by the calling church that the required announcements were made and that the congregation has approved the call.
Re. A 1:
The ordination of candidates to the ministry, mentioned in Article 5, will take place after classis has approved the call. This is dependent on a) satisfactory testimony concerning his doctrine and conduct, attested by the church to which he belongs; and b) the good result of the so-called ‘peremptory examination’.
The peremptory examination is conducted by the classis to which the congregation extending the call belongs.
Some of synod’s deputies must also be present during this examination, as the ordination of a candidate to the ministry of the Word will have all sorts of consequences for the bond of churches.
This examination is longer and more intense than the preparatory exam. Neither of these examinations bears an exclusively scientific character, This does happen in the case of the final examinations of the theological university or seminary. They are intended to convince the churches, by their representatives, that the candidate is able to serve the congregation that has called him in all the respective aspects of the ministry of the Word.
For this reason a candidate is examined:
1. in his ability to deliver a sermon — the text to be chosen by himself —, the draft to be sent one week prior to the examination;
2. the knowledge of holy Scripture;
3. the exegesis of the Old Testament;
4. the exegesis of the New Testament;
At least three weeks before the examination the candidate is informed about the two chapters from the Old Testament and two chapters from the New Testament in which he will be examined;
5. the doctrine of the churches;
6. his knowledge of the contents of our creeds and confessions;
8. church history;
9. church politics;
10. the ‘pastoral subjects’:
a. homiletics, the ‘art’ of preparing sermons;
d. poimenics, pastoral care during visits, etcetera;
Here again certain documents have to be tabled first:
a. the letter of call;
b. a declaration of acceptance of the call;
c. a declaration regarding the candidate’s eligibility to be called as a minister, issued by the classis that has examined him preparatorily;
d. the declaration mentioned above, in the first lines of our comment.
When the result of the examination is positive, the candidate must undersign the Subscription Form for ministers of the Word.
He receives from the classis a certificate regarding his admittance to the ministry. In this way the classis grants its approval to the call extended to the candidate.
Re. A 2:
The contents of the second point of section A is based on the possibility that, after his preparatory examination a candidate has served as an assistant to a minister, has continued his studies for some time, or for other reasons.
Re. B 1:
This section describes the procedure to be followed for the approval and installation of those who are serving in the ministry in our churches. It does not need any further explanation.
Re. B 2:
The same concerns section B 2 regarding ministers who have been called from one of our overseas sister-churches. It is clearly stated that the colloquium must investigate whether the minister concerned fully agrees with the doctrine and polity of our churches. It differs from the above mentioned examinations.
Before the approval of a call by the classis can take place, the calling church shall supply classis with a written certification that, after the required public announcements, the congregation has approved the call.
Lawful objections could be raised against the candidate’s doctrine, life, or his ability to serve as a minister. In the event of difficulties proving to be insurmountable, the bond of churches must intervene, if need be, by dealing with an appeal.
This action from the side of the congregation is not only a matter of supervision over a future member, but it is of great importance for the well-being of the congregation as the work of a minister of the Word is of great significance in the life of the congregation.
In other words: Making the necessary announcements is not a formality, for, if no objections have been made, the congregation is able, and even obliged, to receive its new minister with gratitude.