Section VI. The Commissioned Minister as Probationary Member
¶ 324. Qualifications for Election to Probationary Membership and Commissioning-A person shall be eligible for election to probationary membership and commissioning in the annual conference by vote of the clergy session on recommendation of its board of ordained ministry after meeting the following qualifications.
1. Candidacy Requirement: Each candidate shall have been a certified candidate for probationary membership and commissioning for at least one year and no more than twelve years.
2. Service Requirement: Each candidate shall have demonstrated his or her gifts for ministries of service and leadership to the satisfaction of the district committee on ordained ministry as a condition for probationary membership and commissioning.
3. Undergraduate Requirement: A candidate for probationary membership and commissioning shall have completed a bachelor’s degree from a college or university recognized by the University Senate. Exceptions to the undergraduate degree requirements may be made in consultation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in some instances, for missional purposes, for persons who have a minimum of sixty semester hours of Bachelor of Arts credit and:
a) have been prevented from pursuit of the normal course of baccalaureate education,
b) are members of a group whose cultural practices and training enhance insight and skills for effective ministry not available through conventional formal education, or
c) have graduated with a Bachelor degree or its equivalent from a college not recognized by the University Senate and have completed one half of the studies of the Master of Divinity or equivalent first professional degree in a school of theology listed by the University Senate.
4. Graduate Requirement:
a) Candidates for deacon or elder shall have completed a minimum of twenty-four semester hours of graduate theological studies in the Christian faith. These graduate theological studies must include the areas of: Old Testament; New Testament; theology; church history; mission of the church in the world; evangelism; worship/liturgy; and United Methodist doctrine, polity and history. These courses may be included within or in addition to a seminary degree.
b) a candidate for ordination as an elder shall have completed one half of the studies toward a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent, including one half of the basic graduate theological studies from a seminary listed by the University Senate.
c) a candidate for ordination as a deacon shall have:
(1) completed one half of the studies of a master’s degree from a United Methodist seminary or one listed by the University Senate, or
(2) received a master’s degree in the area of the specialized ministry in which the candidate will serve, and completed one half of the basic graduate theological studies, in a context which will provide formation as a United Methodist deacon in full connection within a cohesive program developed by the seminary and approved by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, documented by a record of completion from that school.
5. In some instances a candidate who is pursuing ordination to serve as deacon in full connection may fulfill the academic requirements through the following professional certification alternate route:
a) shall have reached thirty-five years of age at the time to become a certified candidate;
b) completed a bachelor’s degree, received professional certification or license in the area of ministry in which the candidate will serve, have completed a minimum of eight semester hours of graduate credit or equivalent quarter hours in the area of specialization, and have been recommended by the conference board of ordained ministry;
c) have completed one half of the minimum of twenty-four semester hours of the basic graduate theological studies of the Christian faith including the areas of: Old Testament; New Testament; theology; church history; mission of the church in the world; evangelism; worship/liturgy; and United Methodist doctrine, polity, and history, in a context which will provide a cohesive program and formation as a United Methodist deacon in full connection within a cohesive program developed by the seminary and approved by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, documented by a record of completion from that school.
6. Local pastors may fulfill the requirements for probationary membership and commissioning when they have:
a) reached forty years of age;
b) satisfied all requirements of Sections 1-3 and 7-14 of this paragraph.
c) completed the five-year Course of Study for ordained ministry, of which no more than four courses may be taken by correspondence or Internet; and
d) an Advanced Course of Study consisting of thirty-two semester hours of graduate theological study or its equivalent as determined by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry that shall include the areas of evangelism, and United Methodist history, doctrine, and polity (see Judicial Council Decision 823). The thirty-two semester hours may be offered in a seminary setting or in an extension setting that meets the requirements of the University Senate.10
7. The board of ordained ministry shall require an official transcript of credits from each school before recognizing any of the applicant’s educational claims. In case of doubt, the board may submit a transcript to the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
8. Each candidate shall present a satisfactory certificate of good health by a physician on the prescribed form. Disabilities are not to be construed as unfavorable health factors when a person with disability is capable of meeting the professional standards and is able to render effective service as a probationary member and commissioned minister.
9. Each candidate shall respond to a written and oral doctrinal examination administered by the conference board of ordained ministry. The examination shall cover the following:
a) Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological, and historical sources.
b) What is your understanding of evil as it exists in the world?
c) What is your understanding of humanity, and the human need for divine grace?
d) How do you interpret the statement Jesus Christ is Lord?
e) What is your conception of the activity of the Holy Spirit in personal faith, in the community of believers, and in responsible living in the world?
f) What is your understanding of the kingdom of God; the Resurrection; eternal life?
g) How do you intend to affirm, teach and apply Part II of the Discipline (Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) in your work in the ministry to which you have been called?
h) The United Methodist Church holds that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. What is your understanding of this theological position of the Church?
i) Describe the nature and mission of the Church. What are its primary tasks today?
j) Discuss your understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity.
k) How do you perceive yourself, your gifts, your motives, your role, and your commitment as a probationary member and commissioned minister in The United Methodist Church?
l) Describe your understanding of diakonia, the servant ministry of the church, and the servant ministry of the probationary member and commissioned minister.
m) What is the meaning of ordination in the context of the general ministry of the Church?
n) Describe your understanding of an inclusive church and ministry.
o) You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life, and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility, and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God. What is your understanding of this agreement?
p) Explain the role and significance of the sacraments in the ministry to which you have been called.
10. Each candidate shall have been recommended in writing to the conference board of ordained ministry, based on a three-fourths majority vote of the district committee on ordained ministry.
11. Each candidate shall have a personal interview with the conference board of ordained ministry to complete his or her candidacy.
12. Each candidate shall submit on a form provided by the board of ordained ministry a notarized statement detailing any convictions for felony, or misdemeanor, or written accusations and its disposition of sexual misconduct or child abuse; or certifying that this candidate has not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor or accused in writing of sexual misconduct or child abuse. The candidate also shall release required psychological reports, criminal background, credit checks and reports of child abuse.
13. Each candidate shall file with the board a written, concise, autobiographical statement (in duplicate on a prescribed form) regarding age, health, family status, Christian experience, call to ministry, educational record, formative Christian experiences, and plans for service in the Church.
14. Each candidate shall have been recommended in writing to the clergy session based on at least a two-thirds majority vote of the conference board of ordained ministry.
10. See Judicial Council Decision 977.