PASTORAL MINISTRY HANDBOOK | CHAPTER 6
The Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, uses the term “specialized minister” to describe all non-ordained paid staff ministers employed by churches of the denomination. Individuals holding this license are not pursuing ordination, and generally are employed to oversee specific areas of ministry in a local church. This designation does not include ministry support positions, such as secretarial or custodial staff.
Specialized ministers must meet the following qualifications:
Persons holding this license must have a minimum of 30 semester hours of college level work in their field of specialization from an accredited college, including a minimum of 12 semester hours of college level work in Bible and the course in United Brethren church history.
Persons holding this license must have served for a minimum of 12 months on a professional basis in the field of specialization in a United Brethren church.
Persons holding this license must be members of a United Brethren church.
3. Demonstrate faithfulness to the expectations of members (UB Discipline, chapter 4), adherence to the moral and social standards of the church (UB Discipline, chapters 4-6), and conformity to the general expectations of ministers (UB Discipline, chapter 7).
Licensing of Specialized Ministers
The following procedure is established for the licensing of specialized ministers:
1. Recommendation from a Local Church
After reviewing his or her conduct as a local church or provisional minister and their suitability for ministry, the senior pastor of a local church may recommend that the local church refer a candidate to the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team for a specialized minister’s license. If the local church so concurs, the senior pastor will notify the bishop, and the bishop will forward the candidate’s file to the appropriate Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team for examination.
The candidate shall present the following to the examining committee:
a. Three letters of reference. These letters should give evidence of the candidate’s faithfulness in Christian living and are to be obtained from the following:
(1) The senior pastor of the church where the candidate is a member.
(2) The lay leader (or a key layperson) of the church where the candidate is a member.
(3) The chairperson of the Personnel Relations Commission of the church where the candidate is a member.
b. Copies of educational transcripts which verify the candidate’s educational qualifications.
c. Written responses to the following:
(1) Describe your conversion experience, journey of faith, and call to ministry.
(2) Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God and that it reveals the only way for our salvation? How do you support your belief?
(3) What is your motive for desiring a specialized minister’s license?
(4) What is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer? How is this demonstrated in your life?
(5) What do you believe regarding the nature of humanity and the individual need for salvation?
(6) Define the following terms: depravity, redemption, faith, repentance, justification, regeneration, and sanctification.
(7) Demonstrate proficiency with a plan of salvation, and identify individuals you personally have led to Christ.
(8) Will you agree to abide by the official actions of your conference and denomination in all matters relating to your ministry?
(9) Are you satisfied with the moral and social standards and with the government of this denomination, and will you seek to maintain them?
(10) What are your future plans regarding ministry inasmuch as they pertain to this license?
(11) What current debts do you have?
(12) Have you ever pled guilty to or been convicted of any crime?
(13) Have you ever been charged with child neglect or abuse?
(14) Has your driver’s license ever been suspended or revoked?
(15) Do you use illegal drugs, beverage alcohol, or tobacco in any form?
(16) Is your marriage in harmony with the teachings of Scripture as interpreted by this denomination?
(17) What role does your area of ministry play in the overall ministry of the church?
(18) What is your understanding of staff relationships in the church?
(19) Explain your philosophy of ministry as it relates to your specific area of specialization.
Based on the above 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. Recommendation to the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team
Following the examination, the Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team will 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 a specialized minister’s license.
4. Loss of the License
The bishop and/or Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team shall have the authority to revoke the licenses of specialized ministers whose lives and ministries are inconsistent with the expectations detailed in the Discipline. Should they desire, specialized ministers 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.
If specialized ministers decide to pursue ordination, this license will be deemed the equivalent of a national church license, pending the completion of all additional requirements for national license.
Expectations of Specialized Ministers
In addition to the general expectations of all ministers and members in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, specialized ministers are expected to faithfully fulfill the following requirements:
1. Annual Reporting
All specialized ministers are expected to file an annual report of their activities with the bishop.
Since this license is granted by the national conference, specialized ministers are accountable to the national conference in addition to the normal accountability procedures in the local church where they serve.
3. Ministerial Service
Specialized ministers shall work under the direction of their senior pastors or bishop. They may officiate at funerals and weddings and administer the ordinances of baptism and communion only under the supervision of a senior pastor.