The Committee on Theological Education (COTE) has General Assembly-mandated responsibility for developing and maintaining a comprehensive, denomination-wide plan for theological education. COTE seeks to identify, develop and propose strategies for a systemic approach to theological education within the PC(USA).
COTE serves as an advocate for theological education, seeking to support your seminaries (both financially and in other ways) and to strengthen them for their mission to the whole church. It is the body through which the seminaries report and are accountable to the denomination. COTE also serves as a two-way communication link between the denomination and its graduate theological institutions.
The mandate for COTE’s ongoing work comes from General Assembly approval of reports and recommendations presented by two special committees: the Special Committee on Theological Institutions in 1986 and the Special Committee to Study Theological Institutions in 1993.
Business items for COTE
Individuals who wish to propose business items for a COTE meeting should follow the Committee on Theological Education Agenda Development Guidelines. Note that proposed items for action or information are due 60 days before the COTE meeting.
Who serves on COTE?
Twenty-three voting members sit around the Committee on Theological Education (COTE) table when it is convened twice each year. Included are:
- 10 presidents or deans representing PC(USA) seminaries.
- 11 pastors and laypersons elected by the General Assembly to represent the church-at-large.
- Two elected members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board of Directors who are appointed by that body to also serve on COTE.
Serving on COTE, with voice but no vote, are five corresponding members, including:
- The presidents of two seminaries that are related to the General Assembly by covenant agreement.
- A representative of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation.
- Representatives from two nondenominational seminaries that educate a significant number of Presbyterian ministerial candidates.
COTE’s subcommitees do good work
In order to carry out their mandate, the Committee on Theological Education has established an executive committee, an institutional committee and three permanent subcommittees.
The Executive Committee includes the chair and vice-chair of COTE, the chair of each of the four permanent subcommittees and one at-large member.
The Institutional Review Committee includes only the 13 elected members of COTE. This committee is responsible for the oversight of distribution of funds to the schools according to an agreed upon formula, proposing alteration of that formula when deemed necessary and the annual review of the health and stewardship of the seminaries by way of confidential interviews with each of the institutional representatives.
The Implementation and Interpretation Subcommittee includes institutional representatives as well as elected members. Their primary work is to interpret the mission of the schools as broadly as possible, and to support and strategize the implementation of COTE initiatives and programs.
The Interschool and Mission Cooperation Subcommittee includes both elected and institutional representative members. It develops and facilitates partnership/cooperation among the seminaries and provides a forum for consideration of general policies and of overlapping or neglected programs. It also coordinates cooperative projects and programsthat involve the seminaries with other PC(USA) entities and governing bodies to carry out mission responsibilities of mutual concern to the participating groups.
The Theological and Church Concerns Subcommittee, including both elected and institutional representative members, is responsible for bringing to the attention of COTE initiatives and issues of concern within the PC(USA) and the ecumenical community about which the seminaries need to be informed for possible involvement. Provision of a theological reflection time during each meeting of COTE is also the responsibility of the subcommittee.