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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Certified Lay Minister

    Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Lay Ministry

    1. What is a certified lay minister (CLM)?

    A certified lay minister is a qualified United Methodist layperson called to congregational leadership as part of a ministry team under the supervision of a clergy person. This person enters the certification process, which includes training, support, supervision and accountability while serving in a local church assigned by the district superintendent.

    2. What does it mean to be certified?

    Certification is the process recognized in the United Methodist Church to prepare someone for significant service. In this case, certification provides a layperson with the training, support, supervision, and accountability needed to lead a congregation that either does not have a traditional clergy appointment or one that is developing team ministry.

    Remember: Certification is intended to be an ongoing process, not an end in itself. So you could honestly say that certification take a lifetime and begins with a placement!

    3. How is a CLM different from other recognized ministers?

    A CLM is a unique, recognized lay servant in The United Methodist Church. A CLM is intended for the missional leadership of smaller churches as part of a team ministry under the supervision of a clergy person. As part of the historic continuation of lay leadership in our church, CLMs resemble earlier exhorters, class leaders, lay preachers, and missioners.

    Specific distinctions are offered below to explain (not compare) leadership. A CLM is different from…

    • An Elder is a clergy member of the annual conference ordained for Word, Order, and Sacrament. Under the guaranteed appointment (placement) of a bishop, an elder has usually completed seminary training. His or her sole livelihood comes from a church.
    • A Licensed Local Pastor is a clergy member of the annual conference who provides pastoral leadership in a local congregation. He or she is appointed (placed) by the bishop for nonitinerant ministry in a local congregation. His or her training includes attending a conference licensing (or pastors') school and completing the course of study program available from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
    • A Certified Lay Speaker is a layperson who has completed the basic course in lay speaking ministries and an additional advanced course. His or her certification is renewed every three years upon completing another course.

    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."