Petition 81320

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Probationary Membership and Commissioning (81320-MH-¶324)

Amend ¶¶324, 325, 326, 327, 330, 332, 333, and 349.1 as follows:
  
Amend current Section VI. as follows:

Section VI.  The Commissioned Ordained Minister as Probationary Provisional Member
      Paragraph 324.  Qualifications for Election to Provisional Membership and Ordination—A person shall be eligible for election to probationary provisional membership and commissioning  ordination 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  provisional membership and commissioning  ordination 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  provisional membership and commissioning  ordination.
     3.  Undergraduate Requirement:  A candidate for probationary provisional membership and commissioning  ordination 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 a Master of Divinity or equivalent first professional degree in a school of theology listed by the University Senate.
     4.  (No change in present wording.)
     5.  (No change in present wording.)
     
6.  Local pastors may fulfill the requirements for probationary provisional membership and commissioning  ordination 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.
     7.  (No change in present wording.)
     8.  (No change in present wording.)
     
9.    a-j)  (No change in present wording.)
   k) How do you perceive yourself, your gifts, your motives, your role, and your commitment as a probationary  provisional member and commissioned   ordained 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 provisional member and the commissioned  ordained minister.
   m-p) (No change in present wording.)
     
10-14. (No change in present wording.)
     Paragraph 325
   Commissioning   Ordination Commissioning   Ordination is the act of the church that publicly acknowledges God’s call and the response, talents, gifts and training of the candidate.  The church invokes the Holy Spirit as the candidate is commissioned  ordained to be a faithful servant leader among the people, to lead the church in service, to proclaim the Word of God and to equip others for ministry.
     Through commissioning  ordination, the church sends persons in leadership and service in the name of Jesus Christ and marks their entrance into a time of probation  residency as they prepare for ordination  full membership.   Commissioned  Ordained ministers in residency are probationary  provisional clergy members of the annual conference and are accountable to the bishop and the clergy session for the conduct of their ministry.
     During probation  residency the clergy session discerns their fitness for ordination and their effectiveness in ministry.  After fulfilling all candidacy requirements and upon recommendation of the conference board of ordained ministry, the clergy session shall vote on the probationary  provisional membership and commissioning  ordination of the candidates.  The bishop and secretary of the conference shall provide credentials as a probationary  provisional member and a commissioned  an ordained minister in the annual conference.
     The period of commissioned ministry  residency is concluded when the probationary  provisional members are received as full members of the annual conference and ordained as either deacon or elder, or a decision is made not to proceed toward ordination  full membership and probationary  provisional membership is ended.
     Paragraph 326   Probationary Provisional Service of Commissioned Ordained Ministers  Service of Provisional Members All persons who are commissioned ordained ministers shall be appointed by a bishop (Paragraph 340) and serve a minimum of three  two years following the completion of education requirements for full connection as a probationary  provisional member of the annual conference.  During the probationary period of residency, arrangements shall be offered by the board of ordained ministry for all commissioned  ordained ministers to be involved in a curriculum that extends theological education by using covenant groups and mentoring to support the practice and work of their ministry as servant leaders, to contemplate the grounding of ordained ministry, and to understand covenant ministry in the life of the conference.  The specialized service of probationary  provisional members shall be evaluated by the district superintendent and the board of ordained ministry in terms of the probationary provisional member’s ability to express and give leadership in servant ministry.  
    1.  The commissioned ordained ministers in residency planning to give their lives as deacons in full connection shall be in ministries of Word and Service the entire probationary  provisional period.   A commissioned person preparing for ordination as a deacon shall be licensed for the practice of ministry during probationary membership to perform the duties of the ministry of deacon as stated in paragraph 328 and be granted support as stated in paragraph 331.14.
    2.  The commissioned  ordained ministers in residency planning to give their lives as elders in full connection shall be in ministries of Service, Word, Sacrament and Order.   A commissioned minister preparing for ordination as an elder who serving as pastor as a local church shall be licensed for pastoral ministry. (paragraph 315).  
   3. Commissioned ordained ministers who are serving in extension ministries or graduate degree programs while in their period of residency shall be accountable to the district superintendent and the board of ordained ministry for the conduct of ministry, and for demonstrating their effectiveness in the ministry of the order to which they seek to be  in which they have been ordained.  In every case, they will demonstrate their effectiveness in servant leadership in the local church to the satisfaction of the board of ordained ministry.  
   Paragraph 327.  Eligibility and Rights of Probationary  Provisional Membership Probationary  provisional members are, in the words of our historic language, on trial in preparation for membership in full connection in the annual conference as deacons or elders.  They are on probation  in a time of testing as to character, servant leadership, and effectiveness in ministry.  The annual conference, through the clergy session, has jurisdiction over probationary  provisional members.  Annually, the board of ordained ministry shall review and evaluate their relationship and make recommendation to the clergy members in full connection regarding their continuance.  No member shall be continued on probation  in residency beyond the eighth regular session following their admission to probationary  provisional membership and commissioning  ordination.
    1.  Probationary members who are preparing for deacon’s or elder’s orders may be ordained deacons or elders when they qualify for membership in full connection in the annual conference.
    
2. Probationary  Provisional members shall have the right to vote in the annual conference on all matters except the following:
   a) constitutional amendments
   b) election of delegates to the general and jurisdictional or central conferences.
   c) all matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy.
3. Probationary  Provisional members may serve on any board, commission, or committee of the annual conference except the board of ordained ministry. (Paragraph 634.1)  They shall not be eligible for election as delegates to the General, central, or jurisdictional conferences.
4.   Probationary  Provisional members shall be amenable to the annual conference in the performance of their ministry and are subject to the provisions of the Book of Discipline in the performance of their duties.  They shall be supervised by the district superintendent under whom they are appointed.  They shall also be assigned a deacon or elder as mentor by the board of ordained ministry.   Probationary  provisional members preparing to become  who have been ordained as elders shall be eligible for appointment by meeting disciplinary provisions (paragraph 315.)
5.   Probationary  Provisional members in appointments beyond the local church shall relate themselves to the district superintendent in the area where their work is done.  The district superintendent shall give them supervision and report annually to their board of ordained ministry.
6. Discontinuance from Probationary  Provisional Membership Probationary  Provisional members may request discontinuance of this relationship or may be discontinued by the annual conference upon recommendation of the board of ordained ministry.  When probationary  provisional members in good standing withdraw to unite with another denomination or to terminate their membership in The United Methodist Church, their actions shall be considered a request for discontinuance of their relationship and their credentials shall be surrendered to a district superintendent.  Prior to any final recommendation of discontinuance without consent, a probationary  provisional member will be advised of the right to a hearing before the executive committee of the conference board of ordained ministry.  A report of the action will be made to the full board.  The provisions of fair process (paragraph 362.3) shall be observed and there shall be a review by the administrative review committee under paragraph 635 prior to hearing by the annual conference.  When this relationship is discontinued, they shall no longer be permitted to exercise ministerial functions and shall return their credentials to the district superintendent for deposit with the secretary of the conference, and their membership shall be transferred by the district superintendent to the local church they designate after consultation with the pastor.  The board of ordained ministry shall file with the resident bishop and the secretary of the conference a permanent record of the circumstances relating to discontinuance as a probationary provisional member as required in paragraph 634.3d.  After discontinuance, probationary  provisional members may be classified and approved as local pastors in accordance with the provision of paragraph 316.
  
Amend related paragraphs in the Book of Discipline to make consistent with above:
Section VII.  The Ordained Deacon in Full Connection
     Paragraph 330.  Requirements for Ordination as Deacon and Admission to Full Connection.— Probationary  Provisional members who are applying for admission in full connection and who have been probationary provisional members for at least three  two full annual conference years following the completion of the educational requirements for ordination as a deacon may be admitted into membership in full connection in an annual conference by a two-third vote of the clergy members in full connection of the annual conference, upon recommendation of two-thirds of the board of ordained ministry, after they have qualified as follows:   
    1.  (No change in present wording.)
    2.  Been previously elected as a probationary  provisional member.
3.  (No change in present wording.)
4.  (No change in present wording.)
   5.   A probationary member of the annual conference who has completed the educational requirements for deacon’s orders and admission into full membership shall be eligible for election to full membership and ordination as deacon by a bishop.  Following election into full membership, the bishop and secretary of the annual conference shall provide a certificate of full membership in the annual conference , and following ordination, a certificate of ordination.

Section VIII.  The Ordained Elder in Full Connection
     Paragraph 332.  Ministry of an Elder—Elders in full connection are ordained ministers who, by God’s grace, have completed their formal preparation, and have been commissioned and served as a probationary  provisional member in residency for two years following the completion of their educational requirements, have been found by the Church to be of sound learning, of Christian character, possessing the necessary gifts and evidence of God’s grace, and whose call by God to ordination has been confirmed by the Church.  Elders are ordained to a lifetime ministry of Service, Word, Sacrament and Order.  They are authorized to preach and teach the Word of God, to administer the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, and to order the life of the Church for mission and ministry.  The servant leadership of the elder is expressed by leading the people of God in worship and prayer, by leading persons to faith in Jesus Christ, by exercising pastoral supervision in the congregation, and by leading the Church in obedience to mission in the world.
    As members of the Order of Elder, all elders are in covenant with all other elders in the annual conference and shall participate in the life of their Order.
  
     Paragraph 333.  A probationary member of the annual conference who has completed the requirements for Elder’s Orders and admission into full membership shall be eligible for election to full membership and ordination as elder by the bishop.   Following election into full membership in the annual conference, the bishop and secretary of the conference shall provide a certificate of full membership in the annual conference , and following ordination, a certificate of ordination .
Section XII.  Mentoring and Mentors
     Paragraph 349.1
   b) Clergy mentors are clergy in full connection, associate members, or full-time trained local pastors who have completed the Course of Study trained to provide ongoing oversight and counsel with local pastors and probationary  provisional members pursuing ordained ministry.  Local pastors will be assigned a clergy mentor by the district committee on ordained ministry in consultation with the district superintendent.   Probationary  Provisional members will be assigned a clergy mentor in full connection by the conference board of ordained ministry in consultation with the district superintendent.  A candidacy mentor may continue with the same person if trained to serve as a clergy mentor.
     3.  The conference board of ordained ministry may assign one mentor to work either with one individual or with a group of local pastors and/or probationary  provisional members.  Persons transferring from other denominations will also be assigned a clergy mentor.
     4.  Clergy mentoring begins when a person receives an appointment as a local pastor or as a commissioned  ordained minister entering probationary  provisional service.

Rationale

The change suggests a clearer distinction between ordination and conference membership, eliminating the theologically and ecumenically problematic practice of “commissioning” and the negative connotation of “probationary” language.  It restores the practice of ordination after seminary and shortens the time for admittance to full membership back to two years from three.