Mission and Vision
November 2, 2021

ECO Ordination Candidates Show Bright Future


by Lisa Johnson, Director of Leadership Development 

A year into our new ordination process, we held our fourth set of ordination retreats on the East Coast, thanks to the hospitality of Narberth Presbyterian Church. We are happy to report that God is mightily and effectively at work in and through our discipleship based ordination process and our candidates. We are witnessing astonishing growth in our candidates who received a personalized map at Retreat #1 and have now come to Retreat #2 exhibiting the fruit of that work. It is so encouraging!

At the end of each (very agenda-intense) retreat, we sit still together and allow God to speak.  We close our time together by sitting in a circle and allowing all of the participants to reflect on how God has met them and challenged them.  We then explain the Biblical meaning of anointing and have one or two assessors pull aside candidates one by one to anoint and pray for them in their calling to ordained ministry.

At Retreat  #1: Mapping Out Your Ordination Journey, which is for candidates who are near the beginning of their ordination journey, we hosted eleven candidates from all over the country who were assessed by eight volunteer assessors (either elders or pastors) from various presbyteries. We also had three volunteer retreat pastors present to care spiritually and emotionally for the candidates and lead their spiritual formation groups. Each candidate leaves the retreat with a personalized map that lists for them the things they need to accomplish before taking their ordination exams and moving onto Retreat #2: Final Assessment. These “maps” are based on a multi-faceted assessment of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in the four Desired Ordination Outcomes. (1. Integrated Biblically and Theologically, 2. Proficient in Ministry, 3. Skilled in Leadership and 4. Healthy Spiritually and Emotionally)

Hear what the candidates are saying after Retreat #1:

“I loved getting to know everyone on the retreat! Thank you for the opportunity to meet and get to know so many wonderful leaders from all over the country.”

“I am excited about the map provided for my journey. I see value in each step.”

“I left the retreat spiritually refreshed, inspired, hopeful about the future of church, excited about ECO, and eager to complete the steps provided on my map. I loved the relationships formed with assessors, pastors, and candidates.”

Hear what the assessors and retreat pastors of Retreat #1 are saying:

“The personalization of each map to meet the needs of each specific candidate makes the process far more understandable and doable.”

“It is a great process!!! As I said at the retreat, this is a huge leap forward.”

“The spiritual formation aspect is very important to forming ECO pastors.”

“It was wonderful! It was an encouragement to me. When I came home, I shared with others from my church how wonderful an experience it was.”

“A highlight and great experience. It gives me such hope for the future of ECO!” 

“Encouraging to see the Lord of the Harvest raising up harvest workers! “

“I loved being part of investing in the growth of a new generation of pastors. I listened and I learned. I am so impressed with how ECO approaches the preparation of pastors. Very happy to be part of this! The leadership functions as a healthy team. Thank you for this flourishing example.”

At Retreat #2: Final Assessment, we hosted fifteen candidates (our largest group yet), seventeen assessors and four retreat pastors. This retreat is more intense as its purpose is to assess final readiness for ordination. Candidates are assessed individually in their growth areas identified at Retreat #1, preaching, evangelism, team dynamics, their own wiring, and the four Desired Ordination Outcomes. At the end of the retreat, the candidates receive a final report which identifies whether they are fully recommended, provisionally recommended or not recommended for ordination. At the retreat in Narberth, we had twelve full recommendations and three provisional recommendations.  When a candidate receives a provisional recommendation, he or she is given one or more requirements that need to be completed before being certified ready to receive a call. (As always, the calling presbytery has the final say.)

For the candidates, Retreat #2 is an anxiety-inducing event, which may be somewhat unavoidable, but we do our very best to create an environment where they know they are safe, known and supported.  For the assessors, Retreat #2 is encouraging and sharpening as we are reminded that God has raised up amazing new pastors and that we are all lifelong learners who have a lot to learn from the candidates as well.

Candidates from Retreat #2 reflect:

“Overall I really enjoyed the retreat and felt like I was well supported by everyone in ECO. It felt like I had a whole family that was cheering me on!”

“My retreat experience was exhausting and rejuvenating all at the same time. My cup is so full and I feel affirmed to continue to pursue God’s call on my life.” 

“Our spiritual formation group is awesome and really helpful for reflection and honest feedback and support.”

“Although this is an intense process, I feel seen, known, loved and challenged to be the best possible pastor that I can be given who God has created and gifted me to be”

“The best part was getting to meet other candidates from all over the country and get connected to them and to the greater ECO family. I think we are bonded now for life and I know I am not alone in this life of ministry.”

Assessors from Retreat #2 Reflect:

  • “Love this process and will continue to help as it is vital for our future.”
  • “I wish I had this kind of attention and care through my ordination process a decade ago.”
  • “I think this is far superior to the old system. Well done!”
  • “I am very impressed with the architecture of the candidates process and steps we are taking to ensure the four Desired Ordination Outcomes.”

List of Narberth Assessors:

Retreat 1

Bertram Wang (Torrance, CA), Clara Louie (Narberth, PA), Dana Allin (Goleta, CA), Donna Yanosy (Enfield, CT), Jason Schepp (Volant, PA), Jon Heeringa (Rockingham, VA), Kendra Norton (Fort Pierce, FL), Kimberly Merrill (Vacaville, CA), MJ Romano (La Junta, CO), Tim Hast (Edmond, OK), Zan Frick (Jacksonville, FL)

Retreat #2

Andrea Messinger (San Dimas, CA), Bertram Wang (Torrance, CA), Dana Allin (Goleta, CA), Donna Ryan (Elysburg, PA), Hardie Morgan (Houston, TX), Jerry Fourroux (Williamsport, PA), Kaitlyn Wood (Cohoes, NY), Karen Ballard (Rome, PA), Kendra Norton (Fort Pierce, FL), Laura Murray (Richardson, TX), Lisa Johnson (Coronado, CA), Michael Lyle (Honesdale, PA), Mike Horne (Winston-Salem, NC), Steve Franklin (Butler, PA), Tom Parker (Phoenix, AZ), Tom Pfizenmaier (Poulsbo, WA)

List of Narberth Candidates:

Retreat #1

Bill Moody (Dallas, TX), Emily Scates (Dallas, TX), Jamie Swope (Dickerson, MD), Josiah Ackley (West Reading, PA), Julie Sale (Fort Mill, SC), Kathy Aposhian (La Quinta, CA), Kristen Orr (Rosharon, TX), Kyra Thomas (Bethlehem, PA), Pat Wilcox (O’Fallon, MO), Ryan McAllister (Abingdon, MD), Taylor Shade (Bethlehem, PA)

Retreat #2

Ashley Chung (Sugar Hill, GA), Audrey Del Campo (Dunellen, NJ), Caleb Shocklie (Phoenix, AZ), Claire Berger (Houston, TX), Clint Leavitt (Phoenix, AZ), Daniel Morris (North Augusta, SC), Janae Barker (Los Alamitos, CA), Joshua Bartz (West Palm Beach, FL), Joy Scarpuzzi (Juneau, AK), Kay Atchison (Chillicothe, TX), Molly Williamson (Chapel Hill, NC), Sarah Goodale (Maple Valley, WA), Stephen Rigatti (Natrona Heights, PA), Steven Park (Fort Lee, NJ), Yong Choi (Secaucus, NJ)

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