1999 General Ordination Examination

January 1, 1999

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

SET 1. Monday, January 4, 1999, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Open Book

Set 1 addresses principally the canonical areas of Church History and Christian Theology including Mission Theology and Missiology. Related canonical areas are Holy Scripture and Contemporary Society.

Be careful to conform your response to the page guidelines for each section. Begin each section on a separate page with its proper letter: A, B, C, or D. Answer all four sections.

A. From its inception, Christianity has been a missionary faith. Drawing upon the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and the ministry and writings of Paul, set forth some of the essential elements in the church's understanding of Christian missions. [1 page]

B. Choose one of the important eras in Christian history listed below and describe the missionary activities in that time period. How did those activities affect the growth and identity of the church? How do those activities support or contradict some of the elements in your response to A above? [2 pages]

  1. The spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire from the 1st through the 4th centuries
  2. The spread of Christianity in the British Isles from the 5th through the 7th centuries
  3. Church of England missions in the 18th and 19th centuries

C. Describe one significant example of the missionary efforts of the 19th-century Episcopal Church, either in the domestic or the foreign field. How does this example support or contradict some of the elements listed in your response to A? [1 page]

D. How have the approaches to mission outlined in A, B, and C succeeded, been challenged, and/or been rearticulated in 20th-century Anglicanism? In light of the demographic shift in the Anglican Communion evident at the recent Lambeth Conference, how do you believe the Episcopal Church should live out the Great Commission? [2 pages]

SET 2. Tuesday, January 5, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Open Book

Set 2 addresses principally the canonical area of Christian Theology. Related canonical areas are Christian Ethics and Moral Theology and Contemporary Society.

There are doctrinal differences between the two following prefaces for Trinity Sunday:

  • From the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (380):
    For with your co-eternal Son and Holy Spirit, you are one God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Being: and we celebrate the one and equal glory of you, O Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
  • From the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (second Preface, 79):
    For the precious death and merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the sending to us of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter; who are one with thee in thy Eternal Godhead.

Answer both Part A and Part B in three pages. Divide your response time equally between the two parts.

A. Briefly identify some doctrinal differences between these prefaces. How are these differences represented in 20th-century theological discussions of the Trinity? Cite the work of at least two theologians.

B. The doctrine of the Trinity permeates every aspect of Christian faith and life.

  1. How is the doctrine of the Trinity significant in personal prayer?
  2. How is the doctrine of the Trinity significant in at least two of the following aspects of the church's mission today?
    • Eco-justice (environmental/economic justice)
    • Racial justice
    • Ecumenical relations

SET 3. Tuesday, January 5, 1999, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Open Book

Set 3 addresses the canonical area of Liturgics and Church Music. Related canonical areas are Holy Scripture, and Theory and Practice of Ministry.

You are responsible for planning the major liturgies for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter (BCP 274-295). You will be the preacher at each of these services. You have decided to focus your sermons on how each of these three days in its own way illumines the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our participation in the Paschal Mystery.

Respond to all of the following in three pages, plus a one-page order of service in C.

A. Briefly describe the congregational setting in which the liturgies will take place.

B. State in a paragraph of four or five sentences the themes of each of your sermons for the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies. Recognizing that each of these days has its own focus, be attentive to how that day's service expresses the meaning of the entire mystery of the Cross and Resurrection.

C. Making use of the order for the Great Vigil on pp. 284-295 in the BCP, prepare an order of service, identifying the major elements of the service. Assume that there will be baptisms of several children and adults. In the order of service cite Scripture by book, chapter, and verse; prayers by Prayer Book page number; and hymns and service music by number and first line. (Select hymns and service music from any of the authorized hymnals.)

D. Explain how the parts that you have chosen for this liturgy proclaim the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the worshiping community and for those entering it through the sacrament of baptism. Give reasons for your choices for (1) the Vigil readings; (2) all hymns, service music, and other music.

E. State the major points you will cover in your sermon for the Vigil.

SET 4. Thursday, January 7, 1999, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Open Book

Set 4 addresses principally the canonical areas of Holy Scripture and Christian Theology.

A widespread belief about the Bible holds that the God of the Old Testament is a God of judgment and wrath, but the God of the New Testament is a God of love and mercy. This belief is sometimes an underlying assumption for sermons.

Respond to all three of the following:

A. Identify some reasons why the foregoing statement about the Bible is problematic. [1 page]

B. Write an essay about the God of the Bible, focusing on the aspects of judgment and love. In your essay describe ways in which God is revealed as a God of judgment and love in each of the following portions of Holy Scripture. [4 pages]

  • the narratives of Genesis and Exodus
  • the books of Hosea and Isaiah
  • the Psalms
  • the parables of Jesus
  • the Revelation to John

C. Based on your work in Part B, write a brief statement describing how Holy Scripture informs your own belief about God. [1 page]

Set 5. Friday, January 8, 1999, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Open Book

Set 5 addresses the canonical area of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology.

The Litany for Ordinations includes an optional petition that the members of the ordinand's family, household or community be adorned with all Christian virtues. In the Examination, (BCP, 531-532) the Bishop asks the ordinand: Will you do your best to pattern your life [and that of your family, or household, or community] in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?

In the service for the Celebration of a New Ministry, a rubric suggests that "the family of the new minister may also be presented" to the congregation (BCP, 563).

Consider a vestry searching for a new rector. After a long search, someone is found whom everyone, including the bishop, believes to be the right person for this parish. It then emerges that the candidate's spouse is not a Christian but a professed agnostic. It is clear the spouse will not participate in parish life. Very quickly, there is confusion and division on the vestry. Some members are determined to stick by the candidate; others are deeply disturbed by what they have learned.

In a long vestry meeting, two basic arguments emerge. Some members of the vestry contend that, given the Christian community's role in shaping Christian character, and the rector's leadership in this regard, it is essential that the rector's family life be exemplary. Others argue that Christianity is about personal decision and individual conscience. Each person must choose a response to the gospel, and be responsible for it.

Keeping in mind that this Set concerns moral rather than pastoral theology, write a three-page essay that addresses all parts of both the following:

A. State briefly (1) an understanding of Christian norms and virtues that might support the view of those who want to call this person and (2) an understanding of Christian norms and virtues that might support the view of those who do not want to call this person.

B. Honoring both positions, what would your own decision be? How is this a morally responsible resolution? Identify the pertinent Christian norms and virtues that inform your moral judgment. In your response cite and make explicit use of two resources on moral theology (books, ethicists, or schools of thought).

SET 6. Friday, January 8, 1999, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. CLOSED BOOK.

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


All questions test Theory and Practice of Ministry as well as the other canonical areas. Unless it is otherwise indicated, assume that the questions are asked by adult members of the congregation. Responses should demonstrate pastoral sensitivity appropriate to the age or gender of the questioner. Respond to these questions in two or three sentences.

Allow at least one hour to answer Part B of this Set (ADULT FORUM QUESTION).

  1. A parishioner, alert to social justice issues, tells you that her teen-age son insists that he needs a new pair of running shoes. "I've learned that these shoes are made in Indonesian factories where women and children work for long hours in substandard conditions for little pay. I believe that the manufacturer should be boycotted. I would be interested in your opinion."
  2. "God seems to permit so much suffering in the world. My dad is dying of a brain tumor, and I'm having a lot of trouble accepting this."
  3. "How do we stop that baby crying during the service? It's the same one every Sunday, and the parents don't seem to do anything about it. Why don't they put it in the nursery?"
  4. A woman asks you: "How can I be created in the image of God, if God is Father?"
  5. As the new assistant in a parish with a long-time rector, how would you respond to the following comment? "I'm so glad you preached today. Between you and me, the rector gives terrible sermons."
  6. "It seems that all I read in the newspapers on the Lambeth Conference last summer was about homosexuality. Didn't those bishops talk about anything else?"
  7. Early in Holy Week an elderly parishioner asks: "What's this foot-washing service I see announced in the bulletin? Why in the world would I want you or anybody else to wash my feet?"
  8. A twelve-year-old wonders: "What is heaven like? My mom died; will she be there with my dad, when he dies, even though he's remarried?"
  9. "I notice that Narcotics Anonymous holds several meetings weekly in our parish hall. Do we really want those people around here that much?"
  10. When you are visiting a Sunday School class, a ten-year-old asks you: "If we all come from God, where does God come from?"
  11. "I don't much like it when we use incense in a service, but I've heard it's symbolic. What's it supposed to be symbolic of?"
  12. An elderly member of your congregation says: "I remember when our church used to send a lot of missionaries to Latin America, but we don't any longer. Why did we stop that?"
  13. A fifteen-year-old asks: "Can I come and see you privately about something important? Will you promise not to tell my parents?"
  14. A new member, eager to be active in the parish: "I've heard a lot of talk lately about 'spiritual direction.' What is it? Should I have it?"
  15. A teen-ager asks: "Do we always have to sing music from the same hymnal? Isn't there something we could use that's more cool?"


Allow at least one hour for this part of this Set.

You are teaching an adult inquirers' class of several sessions devoted to what the sacraments mean in the Episcopal Church. A week before your session on baptism, you ask members of the class to submit questions concerning this sacrament. The following are submitted:

"Why is baptism so important? Did Jesus say, 'You must be baptized'?"

"Do I need to be baptized to be saved?"

"My uncle was dunked into a pool when he was baptized. Why do we christen people using only that little silver shell for the water?"

"I don't understand the big deal about babies needing baptism. Does this church believe that if babies die un-baptized they are going to hell?"

How would you address the questions you solicited in a coherent presentation to your class?