Obtaining credentials and moving from one level of ministry to the next is a very detailed process. While it would be impossible to cover every caveat and idiosyncrasy here, we would like to outline the general process.
Candidates Seeking an Exhorters Certificate
The entry level for credentialing is Exhorter. In order to obtain an Exhorters certificate a candidate’s pastor must request an application from the State Office. The applicant must complete pages 1-7 of the application and return it to the pastor along with two letters of recommendation and a check for $100.00 made payable to Church of God State Fund. The $100.00 fee is for a background check that will be conducted through the International Offices.
The pastor completes page 8 and a portion of page 9 and then forwards the application packet to the District Overseer who must also complete a portion of page 9. The District Overseer should then send the completed application packet to the State Office for processing.
The Exhorters application also serves as an application for the Calling and Ministry Studies (CAMS) program which ministerial applicants must complete before obtaining credentials. CAMS is conducted once a year by the Ministerial Development Board. Sessions begin in September and conclude in January. In order to be admitted to CAMS, applicants must have their completed application packet at the State Office by June 1st.
Any candidate that indicates a divorce and/or remarriage on their application for themselves or their spouse, will be required to gain the approval of the Administrative Bishop, the State Council and the International Executive Committee prior to their admission to CAMS. This is a lengthy process which requires completing additional paperwork and personal interviews. Candidates who have a previous marriage listed on their application (for themselves or their spouse) should not expect to enter CAMS until the calendar year after their application is submitted.
Once a candidate has successfully completed the CAMS program they will be interviewed by the Ministerial Development Board. If this board approves the candidate to continue with the credentialing process, the candidate can purchase a study guide for the Exhorters test and begin to study for the exam.
Candidates who wish to obtain a Minister of Music or Minister of Christian Education certificate will have to complete the same process as those who are seeking their Exhorters.
Candidates Moving from Exhorter to Ordained Minister
Individuals who hold an Exhorters certificate may apply to advance to the rank of Ordained Minister. The applicant should request an application from the State Office and complete pages 1-5. The completed application should be given to the pastor who will complete page 6 and a portion of page 7. The pastor should then forward the application to the District Overseer who will also complete a portion of page 7 and forward the application to the State Office for processing.
The Ordained Minister application is also an application for the Ministerial Internship Program (MIP). Candidates seeking their Ordained Minister credential must complete MIP before they can take the Ordained Minister exam. Applications for Ordained Minister must be received at the State Office by June 1st in order to be admitted to MIP which begins each September.
Once a candidate has successfully completed MIP they can purchase a study guide for the Ordained Minister test and begin to study for the exam.
Candidates must hold their Exhorters certificate for a minimum of one year before they can take the Ordained Minister exam.
Moving from Ordained Minister to Ordained Bishop
Male Ordained Ministers who seek to advance to the rank of Ordained Bishop must meet certain requirements related to age and length of time which they have held credentials.
- Candidates who are 30 years of age or older must have five years of active ministry before they can obtain their Ordained Bishop credential.
- Candidates between 25 and 30 years of age must have eight years of active ministry before they can obtain their Ordained Bishop credential.
- Certain waivers to these age criteria can be granted based upon education and experience.
A candidate wishing to become an Ordained Bishop must request an application from the State Office and complete pages 1 through 5 before forwarding the application to the local church pastor. The pastor should complete page 6 and a portion of page 7 before sending the application to the District Overseer. The District Overseer will complete his portion of page 7 and forward the application to the State Office.
The Virginia Church of God State Office offers exams four times per calendar year. Each spring the tests are offered in Roanoke and in the Richmond area. Exams are administered each fall at the same locations. Please contact the credentialing secretary, Wanda Cary, at 540-362-1549 ext. 5 to register for an upcoming exam.
In addition to the test, a preparatory seminar is conducted a few weeks before the tests are administered. Attendance at the seminar is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended.