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Presbyterians Launch Accredited Preacher Scheme

09/12/2010

A new scheme has been launched by the Presbyterian Church to give relevant training to all those of its members who would like to preach or lead worship on a regular basis.

Called the Accredited Preacher Scheme it has been designed for church members, both male and female, who already have some experience of preaching, speaking or leading worship. Successful completion of the one-year course leads to recognition as an Accredited Preacher within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Once qualified accredited preachers will be able to provide assistance in a variety of ways from helping preach or take services in their own congregations or filling in for vacant congregations.

"Over the years there have been many people who, while not feeling called to full time ministry, have wanted to use their gifts in the Church through preaching and teaching," explains Tom Finnegan, the Training Development Officer with the Board of Christian Training that are organizing the scheme.

"Perhaps, before, without a formal scheme in place, they did not want to put themselves forward but now that possibility is there. Becoming an accredited preacher opens up the door for such people to use their gifts more fully in God's service."

Applicants for the scheme are expected from a wide age range, levels of experience and academic backgrounds. The scheme is equally open to someone who left school in their late teens as to someone who has a degree. This is because the intention is to take them from where they are and develop their gifts to help them serve God and others more effectively.

The scheme includes both training and mentoring aspects. Training sessions will be planned on a regional basis and organized at times to suit those in full employment with the aim of building confidence, increasing knowledge and particularly to bring a focus on Christ as central to all preaching and worship. Mentoring will allow participants to receive vital feedback that will shape and form them to become more effective in their task and is something they will be encouraged to continue to seek even after qualifying.

To be accepted on to the scheme applicants will first be interviewed by their presbytery and, if endorsed, a second interview will be held by the Board of Christian Training. This part of the process is vital to give recognition to potential accredited preachers who are likely to preach and lead worship in congregations where they are not known. The reassurance that this process gives to both the congregation and accredited preacher is an important aim of the scheme.

The Accredited Preacher Scheme is currently being introduced as a pilot programme in the Presbyteries of Armagh, Monaghan and Newry. The application process is already well underway and the programme will commence in January 2011.

The first course available to the wider church will start in September 2011 with the deadline for applications being 11th February. This course is likely to be in the greater Belfast area with future courses possibly in the north west and the Dublin area. The cost of the course will be in the region of £150. Further information and application forms can be obtained from the Christian Training Development Officer Tom Finnegan by email at tfinnegan@pcinet.org or tel: (028) 9041 7232.