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General Ordination Examinations

General Ordination Examinations

The annual GOEs are underway across the country. According to the website of the General Board of Examining Chaplains, it was established by canon of the 1970 General Convention, issued its first set of General Ordination Examinations in 1972, and has administered them annually since that date. From the website:

  • The canons (III. 8) require that before ordination a Candidate must be examined and show proficiency in (1) The Holy Scriptures; (2) Church History, including the Ecumenical Movement; (3) Christian Theology and Missiology; (4) Christian Ethics and Moral Theology including the Theory and Practice of Ministry; (5) Studies in Contemporary Society, including Racial and Minority Groups; and (6) Liturgics and Church Music. These are known as the seven canonical areas.

A more recent tradition is Dean of Bexley Hall Seminary Tom Ferguson’s parsing of the questions posed in his Crusty Old Dean blog. He is careful to remind commenters who might be taking these very examinations not to discuss their answers online, so as not to identify themselves to readers who evaluate the papers, a caution worth repeating here.

COD’s discussion of yesterday’s questions can be found here.


Posted by Rosalind Hughes


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What would the process be for changing the language used in the cited description of the exam areas? The phrase “including racial and minority groups” makes white identity implicitly normative, and that conceptual assumption is a problem on many levels, but especially pedagogically. If that exam is part of a strategy of anti-racism in TEC, then the name of the exam should reflect definitive anti-racist commitments. Why not use language like “including differences of race, class, gender, and sexuality”? Anyway, how could such a change be proposed and discussed?

Chaz Brooks

Amendments to the Canons go through General Convention.

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