1998 General Ordination Examination

January 1, 1998

Please review the Instructions before you begin work on this question and again when you put your answers in final form.

Set I. Monday, January 5, 1998, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon OPEN BOOK

(Set I focuses on the Canonical area of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology. It also deals with Holy Scripture, Christian Theology, and Contemporary Society.)

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? . . .

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? . . .

("The Baptismal Covenant," The Book of Common Prayer, p. 305)

These two questions from the Baptismal Covenant reflect the complex relationship between love and justice in Christian moral thought. This complexity is illustrated in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was established by the South African government as part of the reconstruction of South African society in the wake of apartheid. The Commission has heard testimony concerning crimes against the people of South Africa, particularly those of African descent, perpetrated under government sanction on the premise of white racial superiority. The Commission was created to promote both accountability and reconciliation. It invites victims to give testimony. It encourages perpetrators to acknowledge publicly their participation in the policies and practices of apartheid, in return for amnesty. Perpetrators who come forward are not required to express any contrition or remorse for their deeds. The Commission thus provides an unprecedented method of redressing crimes against humanity that is an alternative to prosecution and punishment. The hope is that such an alternative will contribute to the healing of South African society.

Write an essay of no more than three pages (single-spaced) addressing all of the following areas:

A. The relationship between love and justice. In your discussion, draw explicitly on Holy Scripture and on two moral theologians, one from the twentieth century and one from an earlier period.

B. The particular tensions between love and justice raised by these two charges:

1. Offering amnesty to those who have committed crimes is unjust because it fails to mete out appropriate punishment for perpetrators and provide retribution for victims, and thereby fails to instill confidence in the public order.

2. Reconciliation is a Christian spiritual ideal that is not achievable in the secular and political realm.

Set II. Monday, January 5, 1998, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LIMITED RESOURCES: Bible and Gospel Parallels only (Any versions of the Bible, including annotated editions, and any editions of Gospel Parallels are acceptable.)

(Set II focuses on the Canonical area of Holy Scripture. It also deals with Christian Theology.)

The Gospels present four significantly different portraits of Jesus, as well as distinctive understandings of the Passion.

Answer BOTH PARTS of this question.

A. Within two pages (single-spaced), contrast the Jesus of Mark's Passion and Resurrection narratives (Mark 14:1-16:8) with the Jesus portrayed in the Johannine Passion and Resurrection narratives (John, chs.18-21). Your answer should treat the overall structure of the narratives and focus on one or more of the following: the arrest; the trials; the Crucifixion; the Resurrection.

B. In a brief essay, reflect theologically on your own understanding of Jesus in light of the contrasting portraits you have described above. (No more than one page, single-spaced.)

Set III. Tuesday, January 6, 1998, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


(Set III focuses on the Canonical area of Church History. It also deals with Christian Theology and Contemporary Society.)

As the Episcopal chaplain at a large urban university, you are talking with a group of students in a lunch meeting. Several Anglicans from Uganda express considerable interest in the forthcoming 1998 Lambeth Conference. This surprises an American Episcopal student who asks them, "Why do you care about what bishops meeting in England do? What does that meeting have to do with your church or with mine, for that matter?" The students agree to meet again the following week to discuss this question further. In preparation for this meeting:

  1. Prepare a four-page (single-spaced) background paper on the Lambeth Conference. Include all of the following:


    1. A brief sketch of the origin and subsequent development of the Lambeth Conference.


    2. An indication as to how the Conference has reflected the composition and ethos of the Anglican Communion.


    3. A statement on the nature of the authority exercised by the Lambeth Conference as it has dealt with the autonomy of member provinces and the concept of Anglican unity.


    4. A detailed example of how the Conference has dealt with ecumenical issues and the promotion of Christian unity.


  2. On the basis of your background paper, address the American student's specific questions about the Conference. Include in your response any issues the 1998 Conference is likely to address. (Two pages, single-spaced.)


Set IV. Thursday, January 8, 1998, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


(Set IV focuses on the Canonical areas of Christian Theology, Christian Ethics and Moral Theology, and Contemporary Society. It also deals with Holy Scripture and Theory and Practice of Ministry.)

During the spring of 1997, a number of commissioned and non-commissioned U. S. military officers were court-martialed or otherwise disciplined for adultery. The trials attracted considerable attention in the press. Ellen Goodman, a syndicated newspaper columnist, remarked on the "serious scandal of sex, sin and soldiers." She drew a distinction between the attitude of "the religious right and the secular left." Under the surface, she said, they hold different moral attitudes about sex. "One is straightforward as 10 commandments. The other is complex as human relationships. One holds a simple, sinful judgment about adultery that is the same for all persons and all circumstances. The other weighs and balances, disapproves and yet believes that 'It depends.'" (Ellen Goodman, "Thoughts on Sex, Sin and Soldiers," Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 12, 1997.)

These events and the discussions surrounding them -including the contrast between the "religious right" and the "secular left"- have upset some members of your congregation. Write a position paper for your own reflection and for a meeting with your parishioners in which you provide a theological alternative to these polarities. Base your paper on the documents listed by the 1997 General Convention in Canon IV.15, which identifies the essential teachings or doctrine of the church as those "found or identified in Holy Scripture as defined in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds and in the sacramental rites, the Ordinal, and the Catechism as they appear in the Book of Common Prayer."

Write an essay of no more than six pages (single-spaced) in which you do all of the following:

  1. State in your own words a Christian doctrine of sin, including original sin. Cite references to the documents.


  2. State your understanding of the relationship (1) between sin and sins, and (2) between sin and crime.


  3. Comment on the understandings and roles of (1) the Church in dealing with sin, and (2) the State in dealing with crime.


  4. State what the Episcopal Church teaches about adultery.


  5. In light of the foregoing, address these questions:


    1. Should norms regarding adultery be the same or different:
      1. for civilians and military personnel?
      2. for Episcopal clergy and laity?
      3. for Christians and non-Christians?
        Why, in each case?
    2. Is the distinction between "the religious right" and "the secular left" accurate? helpful? Explain.
    3. How will your theological reflections help your parishioners with their general concerns and specific situations?
    4. How will your reflections shape your own ministry if cases of adultery occur in your parish (or other relevant context)?

Set V. Friday, January 9, 1998 9:00 a.m. to 12 Noon OPEN BOOK

(Set V focuses on the Canonical area of Liturgy and Church Music. It also deals with Church History, and Christian Theology.)

Your Bishop has assigned you to be vicar of a relatively new and growing congregation, accustomed to the use of Rite II. Members of the worship committee are interested in exploring the resources of The Book of Common Prayer (1979). They remark that they have never used Eucharistic Prayer I in Rite I and would like to know more about it.

Prepare a presentation for the committee. (No more than three pages, single-spaced). Include answers to the following questions:

A. When was this eucharistic prayer first adopted by the Episcopal Church? What is its source? What led to its replacing the English eucharistic prayer of 1662?

B. Eucharistic Prayer I reflects a distinctive pattern for the eucharistic prayers used in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. What is this pattern? What is the eucharistic theology that undergirds it?

C. How is the theology of Eucharistic Prayer I compatible with contemporary ecumenical eucharistic theology as you understand it? You may wish to refer to such documents as Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (the Lima document); The Lutheran-Episcopal Dialogue II (LED II); or The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Consultation I (ARCIC I).

Set VI. Friday, January 9, 1998, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

CLOSED BOOK. You may not use any outside references, printed, written, or electronic.

(Set VI focuses on the Canonical area of Theory and Practice of Ministry. It also deals with the other six canonical areas.)

Adult Forum: Devote one hour to this part of the Set. Think of yourself as the leader for an adult forum group in a local setting.

The 1997 General Convention "commends the use of dialogue as an effective and appropriate means of Episcopalians resolving issues of sexuality and asks that The Standing Commission On Human Affairs or its successor continue to promote the use of dialogue as a means of illuminating and resolving issues of human sexuality." (Summary of Actions of the 72nd General Convention: [A071])

You and all other clergy in charge of congregations in the Episcopal Church have now heard from the Standing Commission on Human Affairs in a brief directive asking you to undertake dialogue on human sexuality in your congregation. You decide to request time for two Sunday adult forum sessions.

1. For the purpose of addressing this question, briefly describe your congregation (e.g., size, location, and racial and ethnic composition).

2. What resources would you use? Provide a narrative account of what you would do each Sunday, describing the nature of the presentation(s), the topics you would cover, and the way in which the forum sessions would help in "illuminating and resolving issues of human sexuality."

Coffee Hour Questions: Parishioners often take the opportunity of informal contact with clergy during coffee hour to ask questions. Respond to these questions in two or three sentences.

(Allow up to two hours for 15 Coffee Hour Questions, or up to 8 minutes each.)

1. I am a visitor here. I came for my grandmother's funeral in this parish last Friday. I have not been baptized, but I was so moved by the service that I received communion. Is that all right?

2. I looked in the bulletin today and noticed that next Tuesday we are commemorating Jonathan Daniels. Who is Jonathan Daniels?

3. My sister goes to a parish where every service is a Rite II Eucharist. You know what to expect. In this congregation we use a variety of rites. Why do our services vary?

4. My neighbor quotes the Bible as saying that we should go to church every Sunday. Where does the Bible say that?

5. I've grown up in the Episcopal Church. I'm 75 years old. My experience of Morning Prayer at Sunday services was an important part of my spiritual formation. It's still in the Prayer Book, but we never use it. Can we find a way to use it in our worship?

6. I read in the diocesan newspaper that there was a joint service in February with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. What is the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and how is it related to our Episcopal Church?

7. I attended a funeral at a friend's church recently. The priest spoke a lot about Jesus but we didn't hear anything about the deceased. Shouldn't the message at a funeral say something about the person who has died?

8. I noticed that you signed the wedding license when we got married last month. I thought that in our country there was a separation of Church and State. Are clergy really officers of the State?

9. I am worried about ways in which confidentiality and privacy are disregarded in society today. How does the church protect parishioner privacy and confidentiality?

10. I've heard that the organ is broken and it will take $60,000 to fix it. Do we really need an organ? Aren't there some alternatives?

11. You haven't seen me in church recently because I work two jobs. Sunday is the only day I have for myself and for my family. Does God understand?

12. I just bought a Bible that includes a book called "Bel and the Dragon." I have my grandmother's Bible and it's not in that one. Why isn't it in both Bibles?

13. Buenas dias, new Vicar. You have probably noticed that there are more and more Spanish-speaking people living in our neighborhood and coming to our church. What resources does our church have to help us feel at home?

14. I've been reading about whether the Roman Catholic Church will make Mother Teresa of India a saint. How do we in the Episcopal Church honor our heroes and heroines of the faith?

15. My daughter is a religion major in college. She has an interest in the figure of Sophia. She says that Sophia is in the Bible. I can't find Sophia in my Bible. Can you help me?