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Prayers for GOE takers

Prayers for GOE takers

The General Ordination Examinations begin this week. What was your experience? Stories of terror or humor? What strategies do you suggest for getting through the week? For test takers and spouses/partners?

In light of the discussions about the future of the church what is your opinion of the Exams? Do you think the exams make any difference to the church? or are they one more form of “hazing” and “hoops”? for those seeking ordination?

In any case – prayers for calm and clarity for all those sitting the exams this week.

From Episcopal Divinity School on Facebook:

Episcopal Divinity School

Please include in your prayers this week the 12 people taking the GOE (General Ordination Exam for the Episcopal Church) at EDS this week. Please remember them all throughout each day, praying for clarity of mind & quickness of thought!

This week, we will offer Morning Prayer in St. John chapel at 8 AM, due to the GOE to give the exam takers a little more time to get to their carrels in Sherrill library to begin their writing at 9am each day. Their schedule is Tuesday & Wednesday, rest on Thursday, finish on Friday & half day on Saturday.


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I have been a GOE reader for a number of years now, and I think it’s important for the test-takers to know that when we read your essays, we do our best to find what is best in them. We read carefully and conscientiously, and we are not out to catch you up.

I would ask The Lead, and others, to be very careful with the use of the word ‘hazing’. I know it’s in quotation marks in the story, but hazing is a very serious thing. Many states have laws against hazing. In no way is the GOE hazing. It may be a ‘hoop’, but it is only one of many hoops on the road to ordained ministry.

– Anne LeVeque

Lois Keen

Two days down, day off coming up. Relax and enjoy. Prayers continue for all of you taking the GOE’s – especially Our Seminarian – you know who you are, if you’re reading!

And if I had a say in it, I’d do away with the GOE’s.

Michael Russell

@Gary Exam writing is hard work. The GBEC folks spend tons of hours crafting as clear a question as they can. As with all human endeavors some are great, some so-so and some are awful. But it is not for lack of great effort.

Regurgitation is not that lovely an image, I know, and yet to command a discipline one must command its panorama with some detail. There s enough bonkers stuff loose in the world that if clergy are not well enough versed they cannot reply to it with any “street cred”.

When I was trained to read GOEs, the OT Chaplain inited us to consider whether or not the writers displayed the “habitus” of reading Scripture. Does their writing show that they inhabit the text, or just gather an answer from references. No one “failed” for not showing a habitus, but as a reader you could tell it in any answer in any of the areas.

Mastery of a subject takes 10,000 hours of work at it. So we cannot expect anyone to achieve mastery in Seminary. At the same time we should not shrink from having a solid foundation in a subject that is reasonably common among us all. The three pieces work together to effect mastery.


I withdraw my last comment.

Michael, I have just read some exam questions from the General Ordination Exam and find that they sound more academically rigorous than what I remember from the 1990s. The more recent exams require thought and not mere paraphrase.

Gary Paul Gilbert


Michael, I have read some General Ordination Exam questions and have found them less than inspiring. Some of the questions are so basic that one doesn’t need to have gone to seminary to answer them. The seminar model in which students get to sit down and discuss a discipline with a professor involved in real research seems more likely to foster critical thinking. I don’t think a seminary should be just a priest factory. Coursework should be academically rigorous and require more than rote memorization.

I can do without the regurgitation and would rather look at a creative answer to a problem. Hopefully, that answer by citing from the tradition would show some familiarity with the so-called basics.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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