PASTORAL MINISTRY HANDBOOK | CHAPTER 8
Elders are those members of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, who have been called by God and are pursuing employment as professional members of the clergy. Their call has been confirmed by the church through a process of examination, education, and accountability.
To become a candidate for ordination, a national conference minister must accomplish the following:
1. Complete the course of study for ordination in the Church of the United Brethren Brethren in Christ, USA, outlined in chapter 12.
2. Hold a national conference license for at least two years.
3. Serve for two years in a recognized ministry appointment approved by the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team.
4. Demonstrate a level of faithfulness and competency which warrants consideration for the status of ordained elder.
The following procedure is established for the ordination of ministers:
1. Request of the National Conference Minister
After holding a national conference license for a minimum of two years, individuals may submit a request to the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team for consideration for the office of ordained elder in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
Applicants shall be examined by the Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team. They shall present the following to the committee:
a. Five letters of reference. These letters should give evidence of the applicant’s marriage and family relationships, interpersonal relationship and social skills, and faithfulness in Christian living. They should be obtained from the following individuals:
(1) A faculty or graduate school member in the candidate’s major area of study.
(2) The senior pastor of the local United Brethren church the candidate attends (or, if the candidate is the senior pastor, from another United Brethren pastor).
(3) The lay leader (or a key layperson) of the local United Brethren church the candidate attends.
(4) The cluster leader.
(5) A friend or relative.
b. A copy of his/her academic transcripts.
c. Written responses to the questions in Chapter 8, “Examination of Candidates for Ordination.”
Based on these documents and any others the committee may require, the candidate shall be examined to determine matters of personal integrity, commitment to the Christian faith, ministerial call, relationships with others, spiritual maturity, and understanding of the doctrinal distinctives, history, and polity of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
3. Report to the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team
Following the examination, the examining committee shall report its findings to the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team and make any recommendations it deems consistent with its findings. Pending a favorable recommendation from the examining committee, the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team may choose to grant ordination status.
4. Loss of the License
The Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team shall have the authority to revoke the credentials of any elders whose lives and ministries are inconsistent with the expectations detailed in the Discipline. Should they desire, elders shall be granted an opportunity for a hearing before final action is taken. Failure to retain membership in a United Brethren church will also result in loss of license.
5. Elders from Other Denominations
Ordained ministers from other denominations who seek to be ordained by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, must demonstrate that their ordinations are still considered to be in good standing from their denomination of origin, and provide documentation that verifies they meet the educational requirements for ordination in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
These elders will be examined by the Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team. Once that examination has occurred and a favorable recommendation has been approved by the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team, these elders will be granted a license. Upon completion of the one year of service requirement and the course in United Brethren church history, their prior ordination will be recognized.
Ministers from other denominations who are over 35 years of age will be permitted to meet the educational requirements for ordination as outlined in chapter 12.
Expectations of Elders
In addition to the general expectations of all ministers and members in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, elders are expected to faithfully fulfill the following:
1. Annual Reporting
All elders must file an annual report of their activities with the bishop and cluster leader.
Since this license is granted by the national conference, ordained ministers are accountable to the national conference. They are also required to participate in and be accountable to a cluster.
3. Ministerial Service
Elders shall work under the direction of the bishop. They are authorized to officiate at funerals and weddings and to administer the ordinances of baptism and communion. Elders who consistently fail to meet the continuing education requirements described above will no longer be eligible to serve as a pastor in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
No ordained elder is guaranteed a pastoral assignment in the denomination.
4. Continuing Education for Elders
All elders who are actively serving in a local church are required to fulfill the continuing education requirements outlined in chapter 12.