Petition 80006

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Create a Class of Clergy Called Commissioned Local Pastor (80006-MH-¶300)

Add a new ¶ 321 in Chapter Two, Section IV, and renumber subsequent paragraphs.
¶ 321. Commissioning of Local Pastors
    1.  Qualifications -- A licensed local pastor who has completed the basic Course of Study, has served at least five years in appointments to local churches, and has successfully completed the review process established by the board of ordained ministry, shall, on recommendation by the board of ordained ministry, be eligible for election as a Commissioned Local Pastor by vote of the clergy session, and Commissioning by the Bishop.
2.  Review process -- In consultation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Division of Ordained Ministry, the conference board of ordained ministry shall establish a review process for local pastor candidates for Commissioning.  The process may include both written and oral presentations by the candidate.  The subject matter shall include, as a minimum, the candidate’s personal experience of God and understanding of the biblical views of God; the candidate's interpretation of Jesus as Lord and Savior; the candidate's conception of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit's work in the life of the individual and church; the candidate's application of the "Wesleyan Quadrilateral" to the work of ministry; the candidate's understanding of the nature and mission of the church today; and the candidate's understanding of the organization and operation of the local church.
3.  Application of the Review Process -- The conference Board of ordained ministry shall determine how the review process will be applied, except that it must be applied uniformly to all applicants during a conference year.  Modifications of the process based on the previous year's experience may be undertaken as needed, following the session of the annual conference.
4. Meaning of Commissioning of a Local Pastor -- Commissioning is the act of the church that publicly acknowledges God's call and the response, talents, gifts and training of the candidate.  The commissioning of a local pastor does not imply ordination.  Election as a commissioned local pastor does not imply election to membership in the conference.  No new rights or responsibilities are created by the act of commissioning.  In commissioning, the church invokes the Holy Spirit as the candidate's source of strength to be a faithful servant leader, to lead the church in service, to proclaim the Word of God, and to equip others for ministry.
5.  Act of Commissioning of Local Pastors -- At a public service, preferably a part of the annual conference meeting, the Bishop shall lay hands on each candidate who has been elected as a Commissioned Local Pastor and say, "[Name] I commission you a Local Pastor in The United Methodist Church, to provide servant leadership to the people of God to whom you are appointed; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."


At present, local pastors are not officially recognized as servant leaders by any act of the church.  Election as a Commissioned Local Pastor and a commissioning ceremony will eliminate this gap, without blurring the lines between Ordained Elders and Local Pastors.  Election as a Commissioned Local Pastor is symbolic and...