MEMBER IN DISCERNMENT
Committee on Ministry General Guidelines for Members In Discernment (MIDs) seeking ordination
Each Association Committee on Ministry (COM) may have more specific steps as to what their respective COM does for Members In Discernment seeking ordination and may offer additional insight for MIDs coming from a denomination other than United Church of Christ. Please consult your respective COM chairperson for additional information specifically related to each Association's Committee on Ministry.
To learn more about Discerning a Call to Ministry please contact:
Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 314-918-2604
I am experiencing a call to ministry in the Missouri Mid-South United Church of Christ . . . . .
The designation “Member in Discernment” (MID) is used to describe the person engaged in a period of preparation, assessment and discernment that precedes a decision by an Association to permit a person to seek an ordainable call in the United Church of Christ. The Committee on Ministry acts on behalf of the entire UCC and is called to counsel, evaluate and discern each candidate’s call, gifts and preparation for ordained ministry within the UCC. The local Association church where the candidate is a member sponsors the candidate through the process and is responsible for providing nurture and support, opportunities to grow in ministerial proficiency and candid feedback. Many other entities and individuals contribute to ministerial formation. Becoming familiar with and following the requirements is the responsibility of the candidate seeking ordination. Additionally, it is the candidate’s responsibility to convey expectations to others who contribute on their behalf throughout the process. The COM greatly appreciates the roles each plays in the discernment decision the COM makes on behalf of the entire UCC.
General Time Line and Overview of Requirements
COM's generally accept people into the discernment process from many faith traditions and backgrounds. It feels deep experience with, understanding of and love for the UCC is critical in people who would lead its local churches or serve in other settings. Therefore, the COM will be especially attentive to the depth and breadth of each candidate’s experience of church life and their discernment and decision-making process if the person is coming from another or no faith tradition. Plans to gain leadership experience in the UCC should be formulated as soon as a call to authorized ministry is perceived--even before someone meets with the COM. This process will take more than two years to complete.
The candidate must be an active member of an Association church for one year before being recommended by that local church to the COM. The candidate must remain an active member of this sponsoring church for the entire time they are in the process. The discernment process with COM lasts at least one year as the Ordination Interview cannot happen until the candidate is an MID for at least a year.
The candidate will have had a minimum of two visits with COM before the Ordination Interview:
1) an initial visit and 2) at least one update interview. COM recommends that candidates prepare to be received into the discernment process during their first year in seminary. Some candidates may seek to begin this process even before their seminary education begins.
General Steps for Members In Discernment Seeking Ordination
The candidate explores their desire to seek ordination and to become a Member In Discernment (MID) with the pastor and lay leaders of their local church.
The person seeking MID status must be a member of the local church within their respective Association for at least 1 year.
The pastor or lay leader of the local church writes a letter to the Committee on Ministry that a church member will be applying to be an MID with the Association and requesting guidance in the process.
The candidate prepares and provides specific written materials to their home church:
an explanation of the person’s Christian pilgrimage (including the experiences and people who have contributed to the candidate’s sense of call)
the call as it is understood at this time
documentation of formal education and/or educational plans
5. A committee within the local church interviews the candidate and decides whether or not to recommend them
to the Association. If the decision is to recommend the person, the church sends a letter of recommendation to
the COM, which includes:
a. verification of the candidate’s length of church membership
b. the person’s participation in the local and/or wider church
c. a description of the interview process with the candidate
d. a recommendation of the candidate for an initial MID interview with the COM. The MID candidate prepares and submits to the COM:
a. a letter of application explaining why they desire to become an MID
b. three (3) letters of reference, including one from the pastor of the candidate’s home church
c. the background material (autobiography/faith statement) provided to the local church committee, revised if necessary (See #4 above.)
d. seminary transcript or educational plan, including proposed seminary graduation date
7. The COM reviews the material provided by the candidate and the local church.
8. The COM decides whether or not to proceed with the candidate. If so, it establishes a time to interview the
person, accompanied by their pastor and a lay leader of the local church.
9. The initial MID interview is held.
The discernment process is outlined in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry, http://www.ucc.org/ministers_manual. (Pay particular attention to section 2.)
Another important resource for MIDs, local churches, COMs and advisors is the Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministry, http://www.ucc.org/ministers_marks.
Creating a Ministerial Profile - http://uccfiles.com/pdf/MIDFAQ.pdf