I’ve gone one gigantic step closer to being called “Pastor Nate.”
On Wednesday I received a phone call letting me know that the Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) for the Minnesota Annual Conference (MAC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) has voted to approve my request to become a Provisional Elder. It is an exhaustive week and I don’t have the emotional stamina to give you the play-by-play on the parts of my process which are appropriately public knowledge. Instead, this post is to help people know my understanding of my ordination process, where I’m at now, and what is to come.
Spring, 2009. I prayerfully weighed my call to pursue ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. I read a little book about it, talked about it with a few spiritual mentors, and then had an official conversation with the District Superintendent (DS) of my church’s are. After that conversation, the DS affirmed my going ahead as an inquiring candidate.
Fall, 2009. I entered seminary part-time.
Spring, 2010. I did some paperwork, had some interviews with my District Committee (DCOM), and was affirmed as a declared candidate. I was then assigned a mentor and a workbook to go through with him.
Fall, 2011. I took a semester off school when our daughter was born.
Spring, 2012. I did some paperwork, took some tests, had more interviews with my DCOM, and was affirmed as a certified candidate. A candidate must be certified for at least one year before they can move to the next step.
Summer, 2012. I transferred to another seminary at 3/4 and full-time. The transfer added one year total to my program.
Spring, 2013. I did some paperwork, had DCOM interviews, and was affirmed to continue as a certified candidate.
Fall, 2013. I did some paperwork, had DCOM interviews, and was affirmed to be go before the Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) to seek my next status.
February, 2014. After doing extensive paperwork, and partaking in extensive interviews, I was voted for approval in my request to be a Provisional Elder. (MY CURRENT STEP.)
Hopefully-anticipated trajectory of next steps:
NEXT IMMEDIATE STEP: Spring, 2014. I will work with the MAC Cabinet (the Bishop, DSs, and others) to find the right church for me to serve. The church and I will interview each other, and there will be much listening to the Spirit to find the right match. I would be assigned to this church to begin as pastor (senior, associate, or otherwise) at the end of June / early July. My membership as an Elder is in the Minnesota Annual Conference so it will be a UMC church in Minnesota. The UMC has “guaranteed appointment” and it’s ultimately up to the Bishop where I go; churches do not seek out particular pastors on their own nor vice versa. I mention this because I anticipate a lot of ELCA readers who have a very different process.
May, 2014. The clergy session of the MAC Annual Conference 3-day meeting will vote on whether or not to approve me as a Provisional Elder. I am not technically fully approved until the body of clergy vote “yes.” If they vote “yes,” and my hope and guess is they will because their is respect for the BoOM and their process, I will then (likely on the second day) be Commissioned during a worship service that will also celebrate retiring pastors and see the ordination of other pastors.
2014-2017. Provisional Elders must serve a minimum of two years (in Minnesota, it’s three) before they’re eligible to go before BoOM for ordination. So in this three-year period, I would serve in my appointed church, attend a leadership academy throughout the process, do more paperwork, take more tests.
February, 2017. Do more extensive paperwork, more extensive interviews. Again, with hope and God’s affirming wisdom, the BoOM would vote to approve my request to be ordained as a Full Elder.
May, 2017. Be ordained.
That’s a very simplified way of looking at it and I hope it’s helpful for people to understand where I’ve been, where I am, where I think and hope and pray I’m going, and what the time frame for the whole enchilada is. I’ve found myself responding to the same questions from several people, including those unfamiliar with the ordination process or familiar with a completely different ordination process (for you ELCA readers, there’s no required intern year during seminary for UMC ordination though the provisional status lengthens our process longer than yours). If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
Thank you for reading and thank you for your support,