“A person called by God enters a vocation which through biblical tradition and Methodist heritage carries significant responsibilities. Dealing with the souls of people and leading the church in making disciples requires a heart attuned to God and others, a mind appropriately informed for the work of ministry, and hands equipped for effective service.” Book of Discipline ¶5310. A.
Step 1: An individual, sensing the call of God and the church to pastoral ministry, is first licensed as a local ministerial candidate (LMC):
A. A local ministerial candidate is one who is seriously considering a call to vocational ministry and who has completed the processes of licensing. Local ministerial candidate status provides the opportunity to explore the perceived call to ministry with the pastor in the context of the local church. Prior to being approved to work toward a local ministerial candidate license, the person shall have been a member of the church long enough to have given evidence of possessing the developing qualities and gifts normally expected of a Christian minister: a heart for God and the mission of the church, leadership potential, good conduct and the ability to work with people.
B. Persons who do not show adequate potential of being an elder who can lead a congregation to fulfill the mission of the Church and our expected outcomes should be counseled at an early time to consider the support and service role of a deacon.
C. The pastor shall enter into a mentoring relationship with the potential local ministerial candidate, establishing a Formation Plan (see Local Ministerial Candidate Handbook). The pastor shall journey with the individual through licensing as local ministerial candidate, and possibly even through licensing as a conference ministerial candidate. A local ministerial candidate shall be amenable to instruction, supervision and related discipline to assure growth in grace, knowledge and leadership skill (see ¶6300.Q, ¶6320.B.10).
D. Licensing as a local ministerial candidate is contingent upon:
1. membership in the Free Methodist Church;
2. exploring a call to ordained ministry in a mentoring relationship with pastor/designee (see Local Ministerial Candidate Handbook);
3. an interview with and approval by the local Board of Administration upon satisfactory answers to the questions provided in ¶8700.A. and
4. receiving a local ministerial candidate certificate before the congregation upon satisfactory answers to the questions provided in ¶8700.B.
Book of Discipline ¶6500
Step 2: Involves acceptance by the annual conference as a conference ministerial candidate (CMC). During this period the candidate prepares for the third step through coursework and itinerant service. Before the LMC is voted on by the Ministerial Education and Guidance Board (MEGA Board) for whether or not they will be approved as a CMC, they will need to have a background check, credit check and psychological evaluation.
If approved to become a Conference Ministerial Candidate by the MEGA Board, it will be 2-3 years at a minimum before being approved for ordination (some candidates may take longer). This is per our Book of Discipline, ¶5420 (see below):
“The spiritual formation necessary for healthy, effective, long-term ministry happens best in the context of a local church. In order to properly observe and assess the gifting, calling and brilliance of a potential ordinand, supervised experience in a local church or in a context beyond the local church as approved by the Ministerial Education and Guidance Board, is essential. Normally a candidate will move through this season of formation and supervision in 2 to 3 years.”
A plan will be developed for each Conference Ministerial Candidate which will include any coursework necessary. The basic courses that will be required by Gateway Conference are:
-Old Testament study
-New Testament study
-Pastoral care or counseling
-Hermeneutics or systematic theology
-Free Methodist History and Polity
Conference Ministerial Candidates should not begin to take any of the above classes until they receive their individual plan from the Ministerial Education and Guidance Board.
Step 3: In the third step a candidate is elected to ordination as an elder and becomes a full conference member if approved by the Ministerial Education and Guidance Board.
It is important to remember that during this process, the Ministerial Education and Guidance (MEGA) Board has the important task of discerning whether the candidate should continue onto ordination or be directed towards a different path.
Questions? Please contact the Gateway Conference office at firstname.lastname@example.org.