Ministerial Education

¶51 Introduction

A person called of God to Christian ministry is called to diligent preparation, including both education and ministry experience. Church history and the experience of the United Brethren in Christ demonstrates that God chooses individuals with varied abilities and aptitudes as his workers. In the New Testament era, both Peter (fisherman) and Paul (Pharisee) were powerfully used of God. Both Martin Boehm (farmer) and William Otterbein (theological school graduate) served faithfully and fruitfully in ministry.

Moreover, the needs of local churches for various types of pastoral leadership vary widely, and pastors indigenous to their cultures are needed. This does not mean that some should study while others need not prepare. Rather, it means that the form of preparation will vary among ministerial candidates.

The Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team oversees issues of ministerial education, including:

1. Establishing the Course of Study.
2. Approving educational institution.
3. Overseeing the continuing education for ministers.

¶52 Course of Study

The Course of Study is the educational preparation required of United Brethren ministers. Recognizing that those preparing to serve as ministers represent a wide variety of settings and circumstances, the Church of the United Brethren in Christ USA has approved several pathways for completing the Course of Study.

Choosing the pathway of your educational preparation is a critical decision. As you prayerfully consider your options, be sure to consult with those who both understand the requirements of ministerial preparation and who have your best interests in mind.

As you move toward a decision, be careful not to eliminate too quickly those options that seem to demand much from you. Pursuing a quality education involves sacrifice and is essential in preparing you to offer your life as a living sacrifice. Also, it will help you to minister in a way that is acceptable and pleasing to God. Challenge yourself! Learning sacrifice now will lay the foundation of faithfulness in your future.

¶53 Educational Pathways

1. Standard Course of Study

Requirements: graduation from Huntington University with a Bachelor degree in a ministry-related field and the Masters of Arts in Pastoral Leadership.

These programs have been designed to fulfill the requirements for ordination.

2. Approved Course of Study

Requirements: Bachelor degree (any major) and Masters degree (Bible and/or ministry concentration) from an approved graduate school.

While those who pursue the approved course of study may exceed the minimum requirements at some points, they are required to cover the core topics for ordination.

3. Seminary Course of Study

Requirements: Bachelor degree from an approved college/university; Master of Divinity from an approved seminary.

While those who pursue the seminary course of study will far exceed the minimum requirements at some points, they are required to cover the core topics for ordination.

4. Specialized Course of Study

Requirements: 30 semester hours of college-level work in the field of specialization from an approved college/university/seminary, including a minimum of 12 semester hours in Bible, and the course in UB history.

This pathway is only applicable to minsters pursuing the Specialized Minister license.

5. Non-credit Course of Study

Requirements: an educational program designed for persons whose life circumstances prohibit completing a Master’s degree.

Use of this pathway must be approved by the Director of Ministerial Licensing in consultation with the regional Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team.

¶54 Core Topics for Ordination

To qualify for ordination, persons must complete the following core topics. Each is expected to be the equivalent of a three-credit college-level course. Alternatives must be approved, in advance, by the Director of Ministerial Licensing. Topics marked with an asterisk (*) are required for advancement to the National Conference License.

1. Personal Discipline

a. Spiritual Formation.*
b. Bible Study Methods.*
c. Christian World View.
d. Christian Ethics.
e. Ministry in the Marketplace.

2. Bible, History, and Theology

a. Old Testament Survey.*
b. New Testament Survey.*
c. Church History Survey.
d. Intro to Theology.*
e. Advanced Theology.
f. Bible Elective 1.*
g. Bible Elective 2.*

3. Pastoral Ministry

a. Pastoral Counseling.*
b. Preaching.*
c. Intro to Pastoral Ministries.*
d. Ministry Internship.
e. Pastoral Ministry Elective’

4. Church Ministry

a. Worship.
b. Christian Education
c. Disciple Making.
d. Equipping.
e. Evangelism.*
f. Missions.
g. Church Leadership/Management.”

¶55 Timelines, Transfers, and Record Keeping

1. Timelines

A period of 10 years is allowed for completing the Course of Study. This period of time begins the date you are granted the Provisional License. In extenuating circumstances, the PMLT may grant a leave of absence and extend the time limit accordingly.

2. Transfers

Transferring between educational providers and educational pathways may mean the minister will be required to take more courses than originally planned in order to complete the Course of Study. Be sure to consult with the Director of Ministerial Licensing prior to making changes.

3. Record Keeping

It is the responsibility of the minister to keep records from educational providers and provide them to the PMLT as requested throughout the completion of the Course of Study.

¶56 Criteria for Approving Seminaries

For a graduate school to be approved, the following criteria must be met:

1. The school must be evangelical in nature.

2. The doctrine of the school must be compatible with the United Brethren Confession of Faith.

3. The school must be accredited by the Association of Theological Schools or a regional accrediting agency (such as the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education or the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).

¶57 Approved Graduate Schools

The PMLT has approved the following graduate schools. Specific names of degrees may vary from institution to institution. Not all degrees offered by these institutions meet ordination requirements.

  • Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Kent.).
  • Ashland Theological Seminary (Ashland, Ohio).
  • Bethel University (Mishawaka, Ind.).
  • Bethel Theological Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.).
  • Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, Texas).
  • Evangelical Seminary (Myerstown, Pa.).
  • Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, Ind.).
  • Gordon-Conwell Seminary (Boston, Mass.).
  • Master’s College (Santa Clarita, Calif.).
  • Nazarene Theological Seminary (Kansas City, Mo.).
  • Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Ill.).
  • Western Evangelical Theological Seminary (Portland, Ore.).
  • Wheaton College Graduate School (Wheaton, IL)
  • Winebrenner Theological Seminary (Findlay, Ohio).

¶58 Continuing Education for Elders

All elders who are actively serving in a local church are required to complete two continuing education units (CEUs) and read four ministry-related books during each calendar year. (Each CEU is the equivalent of 10 hours of classroom contact time.) Reports for each are to be filed with the bishop and cluster leader.

The Pastoral Ministry Handbook is the responsibility of the the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team. They can make revisions at any time.

The entire Pastoral Ministry Handbook can be downloaded as a PDF file.

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