Commissioned Lay Pastors Program

Commissioned Lay Pastors

In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), commissioned lay pastors (CLP) are ruling elders who have successfully completed a course of study provided by their presbytery, and who have been examined by the Committee on Ministry (COM) and deemed ready to receive a commission.

CLPs serve in a variety of ministry settings, including as pastors in small congregations. Each presbytery determines how a CLP may contribute to the ministry and mission needs of the presbytery, which leads to a great variety in the role of CLPs from presbytery to presbytery.

While there are overarching guidelines from the PC(USA), each presbytery has latitude to determine the course of study needed for training CLPs. Once a CLP receives a commission, their authority—which may include preaching, administering sacraments, moderating session, and/or performing weddings—is typically limited to that particular commission.

Any member of a PC(USA) congregation in the Presbytery of East Tennessee (PET) may apply to the CLP program and, if accepted, engage in the program. However, only ruling elders may receive a commission to serve as a CLP.  Applying does not guarantee admission to the program, and completing all of the coursework does not guarantee that the COM, in examining an individual, will deem that person ready to receive a commission.

The CLP program is a two-year course of study taught by ministers in the PET. Typically, the course begins with orientation in July. Applications are due by June 6, 2023. The program is administered by the CLP Task Force of the COM. For more information or to ask questions, contact Wendy Neff (wendy@presbyteryeasttn.org).

Could I Be a CLP?

Presbytery of East Tennessee Commissioned Lay Pastor Program


Two-year program

One Saturday/month – 8 hours
2 classes in the fall; 2 in the spring
Internship: 2 options – after first year of study or after completion of all classes

Each course will take two months.
Total hours:  20 (8 hours in class; 2 hours outside of class per course)
Two months/course: 20 hours (2 hours of prep outside of class)
If you miss a class, course work will be made up to the instructor’s satisfaction.

If someone cannot take a class when offered, they will have to wait for the next cycle.

Student Course Fee:  $150.00 per class (8 total, not counting the final evaluation)
Paid prior to the beginning of each course

Class of 2025 Courses (in order):

Orientation (8 hours)                                               July 2023

Bible Survey (16 hours)                                          Aug/Sept 2023

Biblical Exegesis (16 hours).                                  Oct/Nov 2023

Reformed Theology (16hrs)                                   Jan/Feb 2024

Preaching (16hrs)                                                   Mar/Apr 2024

Worship and Sacraments (16hrs)                            Aug/Sept 2024

Polity and Church Leadership (16hrs)                     Oct/Nov 2024

Pastoral Care (16 hrs)                                             Jan/Feb 2025

Evaluation, statement of faith, etc… (8hrs)              Mar 2025