Clergy appointments in Upper New York
October 29, 2018 / By the Rev. Brian Fellows, Clifton Springs UMC
Editor's Note: This article was first published in the Fall 2018 issue of the Advocate, which focused on itinerancy in the United Methodist Church.
The Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) is privileged to have the ministry of caring for the clergy of the Upper New York (UNY) Conference from the first perception of a call through retirement. BOM works through the 12 District Committees on Ordained Ministry (dCOMs), and in close partnership with the Appointive Cabinet. BOM is the credentialing body for clergy seeking licensing, commissioning, and ordination in the UNY Annual Conference. The Board of Ordained Ministry has a wide scope of responsibilities in cultivating and supporting excellent clergy leadership; these tasks are outlined in paragraph 635 of the 2016 Book of Discipline (BOD).
I am Brian Fellows, an elder serving with the people in the Clifton Springs UMC. I am one of the co-chairs of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Sue Russell, a deacon serving our UNY Camp and Retreat Ministry is one of the co-chairs. We hope this issue of the Advocate broadens your perspective of the itinerancy system, how the system adds to the diversity of our Conference, and how it strengthens the ministries and churches in the UNY area of the United Methodist Church. All baptized Christians are called to ministry. Outlined here are ways people serve in pastoral ministry based on their education and credentials in the United Methodist Church.
When a pastoral charge is not able to be served by an ordained or licensed minister, the Bishop, upon recommendation of the cabinet, may assign a qualified and trained layperson to do the work of ministry in that charge. (2016 BOD par. 205.4) If a layperson will be assigned longer than one year, the layperson will begin the process of becoming either a Certified Lay Minister or a certified candidate under the care of the District Committee on Ministry. They are laity serving a church, accountable to the Annual Conference, and have no sacramental authority.
Certified Lay Member
Certified Lay Members (CLMs) have committed to a set of classes to serve the church at a higher level of commitment and education. CLMs complete requirements set and approved by the Board of Laity. The classes help to prepare them to teach and lead within the local church. Some CLMs serve churches by preaching, teaching and administrating. They are not clergy. They fill a pastoral role in some parishes as laity. CLMs have no sacramental authority and do not itinerate.
Licensed Local Pastor
All persons not ordained 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. (2016 BOD par. 315) A Licensed Local Pastor (LLP) completes the requirements and education specified by the Board of Ordained Ministry in order to be recommended for approval at clergy session. Education common to LLPs is the Course of Study (CoS), seminary courses designed just for licensing as a local pastor. After approval of the Annual Conference, LLPs are licensed by the Bishop to perform all the duties of a pastor. LLPs can only administer the sacraments within their own local church setting. LLPs have the right to vote on most, but not all matters at Annual Conference. LLPs do itinerate at the request of the Bishop.
An Associate Member is an LLP that has gone through a process completing similar requirements as ordination. Associate members are in the itinerant ministry of the Church and are available for appointment by the Bishop. At each Annual Conference, they have the ability to vote on all matters except constitutional amendments, matters of ordination, character, and Conference relations of clergy. Licensed Local Pastors and Associate members participate in the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members providing mutual support for the sake of the life and mission of the church.
Deacons are called by God, commissioned, and ordained to a lifetime ministry of Word, service, compassion, and justice to both the community and the congregation in a ministry that connects the two. In addition to credentialing in their field of service, Deacons are required to complete the same preparation as ordained Elders. Deacons help the poor, the sick, and the oppressed; equip the laity in ministries of compassion, justice, and service in the world. Deacons have the authority to teach and proclaim God's Word, to contribute in worship, to assist elders in the administration of the sacraments, perform the marriage ceremony where the laws of the state permit, and to bury the dead. They are responsible for finding their own areas of ministry to which the Bishop must then approve. Deacons must always designate a Charge Conference where they offer their gifts as well. Deacons do not itinerate. As members of the Order of Deacons, all Deacons are in covenant with other deacons in the Annual Conference and shall participate in the life of their order.
Elders are called by God, commissioned, and ordained to a lifetime ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order, and Service after completion of their formal preparation. Elders lead worship, preach, counsel, visit, order the life of a parish through administrative duties, teach the Word of God, equip laity, administer the sacraments, lead persons to faith in Jesus Christ, as well as many other duties both in the parish or extension ministry. Elders are called to the itinerant system. Elders serve in the place they are appointed by the Bishop and Cabinet. As members of the Order of Elders, all elders are in covenant with other elders in the Annual Conference and shall participate in the life of their order.
As you can see from these brief descriptions, there are many different ways people can serve in the church and answer God’s Call to Ministry in their life. These descriptions only skim the surface of how clergy serve and, they barely mention the ministry and service of the laity.
Part of what makes the United Methodist Church what it is can be found in how we order ministry.