Petition 80157

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Ordination (80157-MH-¶300)

Amend all paragraphs of the Book of Discipline that deal with or are affected by commissioning of candidates for ordained ministry in order to discontinue that practice and place ordination in the process where commissioning now stands.
  
¶ 140. Definition of Clergy
Clergy in The United Methodist Church are individuals who serve as commissioned ministers, deacons, elders, and local pastors under appointment of a bishop (full- and part-time), who hold membership in an annual conference, and who are commissioned, ordained , or licensed.
  
¶303.3. Ordained persons exercise their ministry in covenant with all Christians, especially with those whom they lead and serve in ministry. They also live in covenant of mutual care and accountability with all those who share their ordination, especially in The United Methodist Church, with the ordained who are members in full connection of the same annual conference and part of the same Order. The covenant ...
  
  
¶304.4. The United Methodist Church entrusts those persons who are in the ordained ministry with primary responsibility for maintaining standards of education and preparation for ordination. Having been originally recommended by a charge conference and by authorization of the ordained members in full connection with the annual conference, according to the procedures set out in the Book of Discipline for the examination and approval of candidates for ordination, persons are ordained by the bishop and elected to membership in the annual conference and ordained by the bishop .
  
¶311.3.d)(2) a notarized statement certifying that this candidate has neither been accused in writing nor convicted of a felony, misdemeanor  misdemeanor, any incident of sexual misconduct, or child abuse.
  
Section IV. License for Pastoral Ministry
¶ 315. License for Pastoral Ministry
All persons not ordained as elders  who have not been elected to full membership in an annual conference as elders who are appointed to preach and conduct divine worship and perform the duties of a pastor shall have a license for pastoral ministry. The board of ordained ministry (¶ 634.2g) may recommend to the executive session of the annual conference the licensing of those persons who are:
1. Probationary members commissioned by  of the annual conference, or
  
Section (NEW) The Ordained Deacon
¶ 324. The Ministry of a Deacon
From among the baptized, deacons are called by God to a lifetime of servant leadership, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop. Deacons fulfill servant ministry in the world and lead the Church in relating the gathered life of Christians to their ministries in the world, interrelating worship in the gathered community with service to God in the world. Deacons give leadership in the Church's life: in the teaching and proclamation of the Word; in worship, and in assisting the elders in the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; in forming and nurturing disciples; in conducting marriages and burying the dead; in the congregation's mission to the world; and in leading the congregation in interpreting the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. It is the deacons, in both person and function, whose distinctive ministry is to embody, articulate, and lead the whole people of God in its servant ministry. From the earliest days of the church, deacons were called and set apart for the ministry of love, justice, and service; of connecting the church with the most needy, neglected, and marginalized among the children of God. This ministry grows out of the Wesleyan passion for social holiness and ministry among the poor.
Deacons lead the congregation in its servant ministry and equip and support all baptized Christians in their ministry. The distinct ministry of the deacon has evolved in United Methodism over many years—the continuing work of the deaconess, the home missionary, and the diaconal minister. The Church, recognizing the gifts and impact of all predecessor embodiments of the diaconate and providing for the continuation of the office of deaconess, affirms that this distinctiveness is made visible and central to the Church's life and ministry through ordination and that the ministry of the deacon is a faithful response of the mission of the Church meeting the emerging needs of the future. Deacons are accountable to the annual conference and the bishop for the fulfillment of their call to servant leadership.
¶ 325. Ministry, Authority, and Responsibilities of Deacons
Deacons are persons called by God, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry of Word and Service to both the community and the congregation in a ministry that connects the two. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship and create opportunities for others to enter into discipleship. In the world, the deacon seeks to express a ministry of compassion and justice, assisting laypersons as they claim their own ministry. In the congregation, the ministry of the deacon is to teach and to form disciples, and to lead worship together with other ordained and laypersons.
  
¶ 326. Requirements for Ordination as Deacon
Persons who are applying for ordination as a deacon must be approved by two-thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection of the annual conference, upon recommendation by two-thirds vote of the board of ordained ministry, after they have qualified as follows:
1. Met all the requirements for election to probationary membership as a deacon as specified in ¶329.
5. A qualified person who has completed the requirements for deacon's orders and been approved by the annual conference shall be eligible for ordination as deacon by a bishop. Following ordination, the bishop and secretary of the conference shall provide a certificate of ordination. A deacon shall be ordained by a bishop by the laying on of hands, employing the Order of Service for the Ordination of Deacons. The bishops shall be assisted by other deacons and may include laity designated by the bishop representing the Church community and representatives of other Christian communions, in the laying on of hands.



Section NEW. The Ordained Elder
¶ 327. Ministry of an Elder
Elders are ordained ministers who, by God's grace, have completed their formal preparation and 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. When their period of probationary service has been completed 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 in full connection are in covenant with all other elders in the annual conference and shall participate in the life of their Order.
  
¶ 328. Requirements for Ordination as Elder
Candidates for ordination as elders must be approved for elder's ordination by two-thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection of the annual conference, upon recommendation by two-thirds vote of the board of ordained ministry after they have qualified as follows:
1. Met all the requirements for election to probationary membership as an elder as specified in ¶329.
2. A qualified person who has completed the requirements for elder's orders and been approved by the annual conference shall be eligible for ordination as elder by a bishop. Following ordination, the bishop and secretary of the conference shall provide a certificate of ordination. An elder shall be ordained by a bishop by the laying on of hands, employing the Order of Service for the Ordination of Elders. The bishops shall be assisted by other elders and may include laity designated by the bishop representing the Church community and representatives of other Christian communions in the laying on of hands.

Section VI. The Commissioned  Ordained Minister as Probationary Member
¶329  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 ...
4. Graduate Requirement:
a) Candidates for deacon or elder ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
  
¶330  325 . Commissioning  Probationary Service
Commissioning is the act of the church that publicly acknowledges God's call and the response,  Probationary service is the period of service during which the Church celebrates and accepts the talents, gifts and training of the candidate while challenging the candidate to continue to develop skills and to demonstrate those skills in the crucible of service in the Church and the world. The church invokes the Holy Spirit as the candidate is commissioned to be  accepted as 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  In probationary service, the church sends persons in leadership and service in the name of Jesus Christ and marks their entrance into a time of probation as they prepare for ordination  election to membership in full connection. Commissioned ministers  Persons in probationary service are probationary clergy members of the annual conference and are accountable to the bishop and the clergy session for the conduct of their ministry.
During probation the clergy session discerns their fitness for ordination  election to membership in full connection 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 membership and commissioning of the candidates. The bishop and secretary of the conference shall provide credentials as a probationary member and a commissioned minister in the annual conference.
The period of commissioned ministry  probation is concluded when the probationary 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 membership is ended.
¶ 326. Probationary Service of Commissioned Ministers
All persons who are commissioned ministers  in probationary service shall be appointed by a bishop (¶ 430) and serve a minimum of three years in an annual conference in that status following the completion of education requirements for full connection  as a probationary member of the annual conference . During the probationary period, arrangements shall be offered by the board of ordained ministry for all commissioned ministers  probationary members 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 members shall be evaluated by the district superintendent and the board of ordained ministry in terms of the probationary member's ability to express and give leadership in servant ministry.
1. The commissioned ministers  probationary members planning to give their lives as deacons in full connection shall be in ministries of Word and Service the entire probationary period. A commissioned person  probationary member 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 the deacon as stated in ¶ 328 and be granted support as stated in ¶ 331.14.
2. The commissioned ministers  probationary members planning to give their lives as elders in full connection shall be in ministries of Service, Word, Sacrament, and Order. A commissioned minister  probationary member preparing for ordination as an elder who is serving as pastor of a local church shall be licensed for pastoral ministry (¶ 315).
3. Commissioned ministers  Probationary members who are serving in extension ministries or graduate degree programs 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 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.
  
¶331  327 . Eligibility and Rights of Probationary Membership
Probationary members are on trial in preparation for membership in full connection in the annual conference as deacons or elders. They are on probation as to character, servant leadership, and effectiveness in ministry. The annual conference, through the clergy session, has jurisdiction over probationary 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 beyond the eighth regular session following their admission to probationary membership  and commissioning .
1. Probationary members who are preparing for deacon's or elder's orders may be ordained  elected to membership in full connection as deacons or elders when they qualify for membership in full connection in the annual conference.
2. Probationary members ...
  
Section VII. The Ordained Deacon in Full Connection
¶ 328. The Ministry of a Deacon
From among the baptized, deacons are called by God to a lifetime of servant leadership, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop. Deacons fulfill servant ministry in the world and lead the Church in relating the gathered life of Christians to their ministries in the world, interrelating worship in the gathered community with service to God in the world. Deacons give leadership in the Church's life: in the teaching and proclamation of the Word; in worship, and in assisting the elders in the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; in forming and nurturing disciples; in conducting marriages and burying the dead; in the congregation's mission to the world; and in leading the congregation in interpreting the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. It is the deacons, in both person and function, whose distinctive ministry is to embody, articulate, and lead the whole people of God in its servant ministry. From the earliest days of the church, deacons were called and set apart for the ministry of love, justice, and service; of connecting the church with the most needy, neglected, and marginalized among the children of God. This ministry grows out of the Wesleyan passion for social holiness and ministry among the poor.
Deacons lead the congregation in its servant ministry and equip and support all baptized Christians in their ministry. The distinct ministry of the deacon has evolved in United Methodism over many years—the continuing work of the deaconess, the home missionary, and the diaconal minister. The Church, recognizing the gifts and impact of all predecessor embodiments of the diaconate and providing for the continuation of the office of deaconess, affirms that this distinctiveness is made visible and central to the Church's life and ministry through ordination and that the ministry of the deacon is a faithful response of the mission of the Church meeting the emerging needs of the future. Deacons are accountable to the annual conference and the bishop for the fulfillment of their call to servant leadership.
¶ 329. Ministry, Authority, and Responsibilities of Deacons in Full Connection
1. Deacons are persons called by God, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry of Word and Service to both the community and the congregation in a ministry that connects the two. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship and create opportunities for others to enter into discipleship. In the world, the deacon seeks to express a ministry of compassion and justice, assisting laypersons as they claim their own ministry. In the congregation, the ministry of the deacon is to teach and to form disciples, and to lead worship together with other ordained and laypersons.

¶332.1 2. The deacon in full connection shall have the rights of voice and vote in the annual conference where membership is held; shall be eligible to serve as clergy on boards, commissions, or committees of the annual conference and hold office on the same; and shall be eligible for election as a clergy delegate to the General, central, or jurisdictional conference. The deacon in full connection shall attend all the sessions of the annual conference and share with elders in full connection responsibility for all matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy (¶ 334.1).
2. 3. As members of the Order of Deacons, all deacons in full connection are in covenant with all other such deacons in the annual conference and shall participate in the life of their Order.
333  330 . Requirements for Ordination as Deacon and Admission to Full Connection
Probationary members who are applying for admission into full connection and who have been probationary members for at least three 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 two-thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection of the annual conference, upon recommendation by two-thirds vote of the board of ordained ministry, after they have qualified as follows:
1. Served under episcopal appointment ...
2. Been previously elected ...
3. Responded to a written or oral doctrinal examination...
4. The following questions are guidelines ...
c) The Practice of Ministry.
(1) How has the practice ...
d) Historic Examination for Admission into Full Connection  and Ordination as Deacon—The bishop as chief pastor shall engage those seeking to be admitted in serious self-searching and prayer to prepare them for their examination before the conference. At the time of the examination, the bishop shall also explain to the conference the historic nature of the following questions and seek to interpret their spirit and intent. The questions are these and any others which may be thought necessary:
(1) Have you faith ...
5. A probationary member of the annual conference who has completed the requirements for deacon's orders and admission into full membership as a deacon shall be eligible for election to full membership and ordination as deacon by a bishop.  Following election, 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 .
6. A deacon shall be ordained by a bishop by the laying on of hands, employing the Order of Service for the Ordination of Deacons. The bishops shall be assisted by other deacons and may include laity designated by the bishop representing the Church community and representatives of other Christian communions, in the laying on of hands.

  
Section VIII. The Ordained Elder in Full Connection
¶ 332. Ministry of an Elder
Elders are ordained ministers who, by God's grace, have completed their formal preparation and have been commissioned and served as a probationary member, 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.

  
Admission and Continuance of Full Membership in the Annual Conference
335  333 . Elders in Full Connection
1. Elders in full connection with an annual conference by virtue of their election and ordination are bound in special covenant with all the ordained elders in full connection of the annual conference. In the keeping of this covenant ...
2. A probationary member of the annual conference who has completed the requirements for Elder's Orders and admission into full membership as an elder shall be eligible for election to full membership and ordination as elder by a bishop. Following election, 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 .
336  334 . Ministry, Authority, and Responsibilities of an Elder in Full Connection
337  335 . Requirements for Admission to Full Connection  and Ordination as Elder
Probationary members who are candidates for full connection and ordination as elders and have been probationary members for at least three years may be admitted into membership in full connection in an annual conference and approved for elder's ordination by two-thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection of the annual conference, upon recommendation by two-thirds vote of the board of ordained ministry, after they have qualified as follows. They shall have: (1) served full-time under episcopal appointment for at least three full annual conference years following the completion of the educational requirements specified in 3(b) below. Upon recommendation of the board of ordained ministry, an annual conference may may equate less than full-time to the requirement of full-time service.
  
Section XII. Mentoring and Mentors
351  349 . Mentors
1. Mentors shall be ...
a) Candidacy mentors are clergy in full connection, associate members, or full-time local pastors who have completed the Course of Study trained to provide counsel and guidance related to the candidacy process. Candidates will be assigned a candidacy mentor by the district committee on ordained ministry in consultation with the district superintendent (¶ 311). Candidacy mentors will work with the candidate until that candidate begins serving in an appointive ministry as a local pastor or a probationary member commissioned minister .
b) Clergy mentors ...
2. Mentoring occurs ...
3. The conference board of ordained ministry ...
4. Clergy mentoring begins when a person receives an appointment as a local pastor or as a commissioned minister  probationary member entering probationary service.
Section XIII. Evaluation for Continuing Formation for Full Members and Local Pastors
  
Section XV. Complaints
364  362 . Complaint Procedures
1. Ordination and membership...
  
Section VI. Specific Responsibilities of District Superintendents
¶ 419.
The district superintendent shall oversee...(d) by nominating persons to serve as guides for the ministry inquiring process; (e) by nominating clergy in full connection to serve in the ministry of mentoring candidates, commissioned missionaries, deaconesses and home missioners ministers , local pastors and other probationary members; (f) by participating ...

Rationale

Commissioning has been widely recognized since it became part of the candidacy process as a mistake. It is time to replace it with ordination. This will shorten the time to ordination and bring The UMC into continuity with its ecumenical partners while leaving intact probation prior to full conference membership.