Commissioning in The United Methodist Church

On Monday I had the awesome opportunity to sit for interviews before The Board Of Ordained Ministry in The United Methodist Church Holston Conference. Lets just say that it was an experience that I will never forget. It was a mixture of long awaited anticipation, nervousness and extreme joy to be at this place at this time.

In June at Holston Annual Conference Lake Junaluska I along withe several others will be Commissioned as Provisional Elders. Along with me will be Kristie Banes, Paula Campbell, and and Chris Luper all from the Wytheville District. It is now a two year journey with mentor’s, study and fellowship and a journey that I am looking forward to.

Here is a little information on Commissioning: 

2008 General Conference Shortens, Expedites

Candidacy Process

By Vicki Brown*General Conference 2008 approved legislation that will shorten the candidacy for ordained ministry process beginning in January 2009.

“Steps were taken to shorten and expedite the process and make it more accessible,” said the Rev. Sharon Rubey, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s director of Candidacy and Conference Relations. “The effect of these changes reduces the possible years from entry into candidacy to ordination by two years, plus makes the process less prescriptive, therefore making it more accessible to more possible candidates.”

Legislation allowing a candidate to begin the ordination process with a minimum one year membership in a church, campus ministry, or other United Methodist ministry setting was affirmed. The previous requirement was two years.

Other legislation made changes in the probationary membership, including reducing the requirement from a minimum of three years to a minimum of two and changing the name toprovisional instead of probationary membership. Provisional members will still be required to follow a residency curriculum of theological education, take part in covenant groups, and mentoring with evaluation by their district superintendent and Board of Ordained Ministry.

The Rev. Anita Wood, GBHEM’s director of Professional Ministry Development, said that will make the work more intense for the candidate and the annual conferences. Since the legislation required a minimum of two years, Wood said annual conferences will still have the option of a longer provisional period.

The Rev. Rodney Steele, who was among a group of delegates from the South Central Jurisdiction who drafted the legislation because of concern that the process was discouraging young ministry candidates, said the efforts to streamline and shorten the process without weakening it were in response to complaints from young adults who believed the process took too long.

“By the time people articulate that they are feeling called to ordained ministry, they’ve answered a lot of the questions that are part of the current process,” said Steele, who is a member of GBHEM’s elected directors. He said the addition of campus ministry and mission churches as fulfilling that two-year membership requirement is particularly important.

“We are seeing college students who get involved in campus ministry and decide to seek ordination. This legislation will let that time in campus ministry count as church membership,” Steele said.

The petition on the candidacy process, No. 81215-MH, related to Discipline ¶311, also provided new language to be more accessible to other cultural, racial/ethnic, and non-English-speaking candidates. The petition passed by a sizeable majority in the legislative committee; then was placed on a consent calendar which was passed by the whole body on a 796-24 vote.

In addition, to campus ministry, membership in a United Methodist faith community or mission church that is not yet an established church will fulfill the one-year requirement.

The candidate, along with a candidacy mentor, will study resources determined by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry, based on the candidate’s statement of call, Wesley’s historic questions found in ¶310 of The Book of Discipline, and questions about formative experiences, the role of the church, Christian beliefs, and personal gifts for ministry, which are listed in the current Discipline, ¶311.3.b and c.

This means there is no prescribed Candidacy Guidebook. However, the petition states that candidates are “encouraged to use resources recommended by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.” Recommendations will be offered as this process is implemented in January 2009, Rubey said.

The required completion and release of psychological assessment reports, criminal background and credit checks remain in the process; however, the new paragraph will state that district committees “shall seek ways to consider cultural and ethnic/racial realities in meeting these requirements.”

Following one-year as a certified candidate, if half the educational requirements have been met, the candidate is eligible to be commissioned and become a “provisional” member (referred to as a probationary member in the current Discipline). Petition Nos. 80310, 80313, and 81450 were also approved 796-24 on the consent calendar.

The language was changed to state that provisional members will be appointed by a bishop to serve a minimum of two years (reduced from three) following the completion of all educational requirements. Language was also added to make it clear that those in provisional membership “may be appointed to attend school, to extension ministry, or in appointments beyond the local church.”

Steele noted that this is permissive legislation and believes some conferences, including his own, will keep the three-year provisional requirement. “It’s working well for us, so I think the shortening for us will come on the front end,” he said. Steele is a district superintendent in the North Central District of the Arkansas Annual Conference.

*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.


The following pictures I took at First Farragut UMC where we met with The Board of Ordained Ministry.



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