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GOE Time Again

GOE Time Again

It’s that stressful time of year again, when students preparing for ordination around the church gear up and take the General Ordination Exam–a multi-day, seven-part written exam covering seven different canonical areas of study.  

While they have been in use churchwide for several decades now, the GOEs remain controversial. Concerns grow about the consistency of grading, the relevance of the questions asked, and what sort of merit the whole exercise has to do with being an effective minister of the Gospel. For a very thorough rundown of these issues, Tom Ferguson (dean at Bexley Hall) is blogging his way through this year’s set of questions after they are finished.

He points out one problem with the “print only resources” rule so long relied on:

Plus, if someone can’t be trusted only to use certain designated websites, we probably shouldn’t trust them to have discretionary accounts, church credit cards, and to keep pastoral confidences. It inconveniences students to have to collect all these resources in print (one student said to Crusty, “I don’t have some of these in print form, I’ve downloaded them but apparently can’t use those PDFs”) and doesn’t reflect the reality that almost all liturgical planning involves some online component.

Whatever its usefulness as a measuring tool for ordained folks, prayers go up for all those taking the exams this week. Stay calm, and write on!


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Elizabeth Kaeton

If we believe what we say that we are “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” and that “we ordain for the whole church” (not a particular church or diocese), then, it follows that some basic standards ought to be expected and maintained by the institutional church. Do the GOEs do that? Ah, there’s the question.

So, as we’re all praying for those who have to endure the questions (and the technological difficulties, oy!) I wonder:

(1) What minimum standards would you require of a priest before ordination? (Note: By canon, a seminary education is not required for ordination)


(2) How would you test for it?

Jim Turrell

Whatever the GOE’s merits, this year’s test (at least for the first three question sets) involved substantial technical difficulties– students watching their text disappear from the website’s online text editor when they clicked “save/update;” students resorting to composing in MS Word, then pasting into the text editor as a work-around, only to see that the website had hacked off several paragraphs after submission…

High-stakes testing, such as the GOE, depends on a certain measure of technical competence on the part of those giving the exam.

This year’s debacle (for that is what it is) is really unfair to the test-takers– do keep them in your prayers.

Prayers from NW Iowa.

“Almost all liturgical planning involves some online component” is a massive understatement. I love my books — clergy relocation services certainly rely on them as easily-packed dead weight to earn their salt and line their trucks — but the notion of printing out a PDF (e.g., a copy of Holy Women, Holy Men is 797 pages) in order to perform precisely the same operation you would with the PDF, only slower, on a timed test, is not only something you’d never do in reality; it’s actually cheating the student out of the practical exercise. In the end you’d have used up a ream-and-a-half of printer paper, two toner cartridges, and all your good will, in addition to nursing a paper cut.

Rethink for 2015? Please?

Torey Lightcap

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