The following responses were provided by Paul Roberts Abernathy, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Northwest Washington. The material is intended to provide students with an idea of what working as a minister might be like.

A native of St. Louis, Abernathy received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. in 1974 and a master of divinity degree from General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1977.

Abernathy served as a minister in Columbia, Mo., Chicago and Charleston, S.C. prior to moving to the District in 1988. NATURE OF THE WORK

"A minister is one who has been especially called by God to lead others into the acceptance of their calls from God. I am the chief administrator of the parish as well as the chief representative of the parish to the community.

"This leadership role is carried out through administrative and liturgical duties throughout the course of the week. These duties include counseling (pre-marital, marital, crisis during sudden illnesses or death), visiting those parishioners and their family members who are hospitalized or confined to their homes and teaching Bible study and Christian education classes, in addition to studying and preparing sermons to be delivered on Sundays. There are also an array of meetings in the church and in the community to attend.

"I am responsible for every aspect of worship from training and scheduling lay readers, acolytes and ushers, to working in conjunction with the choir director on the selection of music. Many of the 'tools' I use are a part of the Eucharist; the chalice {cup} used for the Communion wine, the paten {plate} used to hold the Communion bread. Candles are also used during service and I use a pulpit, where the Word of God is preached.

"Preaching and teaching are the aspects I enjoy most. The sharing of the Word and watching the eyes of people when they light up and they grasp something or understand something for the first time -- that excites me.

"I guess the least enjoyable part of my job are the endless hours of meetings when things do not get accomplished because people fail to follow through on plans.

"Salaries ideally are based on the following criteria: geographic location, experience of the minister, the size and ability of the parish to pay and whether the parish provides housing to the minister or not. My salary is $30,000. However, in the Metropolitan area alone, a minister's salary can range from $7,000 for a part-time minister to $67,000." EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

"Serving as a minister in the Episcopal Church is contingent upon successful completion of seminary school (a three-year stint), followed by approval for ordination, ordination as a deacon (one serves as a deacon anywhere from six months to one year) and finally ordination as a priest.

"For young people who feel that they may have a calling toward the church, I encourage them to be actively engaged in their local parish, not just to attend but to be involved in ministries; to carry on a regular study of the Scriptures and to maintain a daily and full prayer life -- you know . . . more than grace at meals and 'Now I lay me down to sleep.'

"I would also encourage an emphasis on English to develop grammatical and writing skills; public speaking and any activity (sports, band, drama, etc.) that provides students with the opportunity to hone their people skills; communication and cooperation." MATCHING YOURSELF WITH THE WORK

"Faith in God is essential; if you do not have faith and the ability to look beyond yourself, the rest is meaningless. Compassion, patience, the ability to forgive and most especially love are also commendable traits to possess."