Examination of Soo Kwan Lee

Our intern pastor Soo Kwan Lee will have his ordination examination at 10 o’clock tomorrow in my office.

The examination of the ordination candidate is an oral exam. An examining board composed of several pastors asks questions to determine whether the candidate has sound doctrine and is sufficiently qualified to become a pastor. In other denominations, the examination belongs to the synod or denomination. For Baptists, the authority for forming an examining board and the subsequent ordination belongs to the local church, because Baptists believe in the autonomy of local churches.

Qualifications for ordination are also different for Baptists compared to other denominations. Baptists believe that seminaries are places where pastors are educated, not produced. Unlike other denominations, graduating from seminary is not a guarantee of ordination. Seminaries don’t have the power to ordain; this is strictly the domain of the local church. Furthermore, unlike other denominations, Baptist churches ordain people if their calling to pastoral ministry is clear and they pass their examination even if they have not completed seminary training.

The examining board for Brother Lee is composed of five people: Tom Billings, the President of Union Baptist Association, August Kim, the Pastor of Asian-American Church, Peter Lee, the Pastor of Yedam Church of Dallas, Eric Shin, the Pastor of New Life Fellowship, and myself. As senior pastor of Seoul Baptist Church, I am automatically made chairman of the examining board.

Brother Lee will graduate this May from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. If he passes the exam he will be ordained on June 11, 2006. His aging father is visiting to attend his graduation, and I want to have his ordination ceremony soon after so that his father can attend.

Our congregation will vote twice regarding Brother Lee’s future. After the ordination we will vote to decide whether we want to keep him as an Associate Pastor. If the vote passes, he will continue to serve in our church. In 6 years, when I am due to retire, the congregation will take another vote to decide whether they want him as my successor. If the congregation decides against it, he will look for a position elsewhere and our church will form a search committee to find a different successor.

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