PASTORAL MINISTRY HANDBOOK | CHAPTER 1
In its broadest sense, the term “minister” can be applied to all Christians who use the gifts God has given them. Within that understanding, all United Brethren members should be “ministers,” actively developing and using the gifts they have received.
In its more restrictive use, “minister” refers to individuals who have been recognized by the church as having received a more specific call from God. This call has been confirmed through a process of study and examination which has also equipped them to perform specific pastoral responsibilities within the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
The United Brethren church does not discriminate in granting ministerial credentials on the basis of gender or race.
Ministers in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, can be classified as follows:
- Lay ministers.
- Local church ministers.
- Provisional ministers.
- Specialized ministers.
- National conference ministers.
- Ordained elders.
Specific descriptions for each of these classifications are described in the Pastoral Ministry Handbook maintained and revised by the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team.
Any ministers in these classifications who are actively stationed or hired by a local church, and who meet current Internal Revenue Service requirements for exemption, are considered by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, as eligible for such exemption.
No person shall be approved or retained as a licensed minister in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, whose life is not in harmony with the established moral and social standards of the church as defined in the Discipline. In addition, ministers are not permitted to use tobacco, beverage alcohol, and illicit drugs, or to engage in any immoral conduct, and their marriage relationships must be in harmony with the teachings of Scripture as defined in the Discipline.
1. General Statement
All ministers are expected to model a Christ-centered lifestyle. In so doing, they will confirm the message of the death, resurrection, and return of Christ which they are to proclaim. They are to evangelize the lost, assimilate them into the church, and train those in their churches to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ as they nurture them in the faith.
2. Spiritual Development and Lifestyle
All ministers should give priority time to their own spiritual development through the disciplines of prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and fasting. They should be wise managers of their time and careful stewards of their relationships with all people, especially with regard to the opposite sex. They should use their speech judiciously, speaking evil of no one, and should take the initiative in restoring broke relationships.
3. Pastoral Transitions
When ministers transition from ministerial positions, the friendships and bonds of affection they have established with their parishioners continue; however, the pastoral relationship does not. Since the primary goal at the time of transition is the development of the new pastoral relationship, ministers are to operate in light of the following expectations. Violation of these provisions shall be considered trespassing, and ministers so accused shall be answerable to the bishop .
a. Ministers shall not communicate with members of a previous congregation in such a way that it disrupts the work of the successor.
b. Ministers shall not perform funerals, baptisms or weddings, nor participate in any other pastoral function at their former churches or for members of their former churches, unless specifically invited to do so by the current pastor or bishop.
4. Transitioning to Another Denomination/Affiliation
Ministers who begin service with a denomination or affiliation outside the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, are expected to transfer their credentials to that group as soon as possible.
Ministerial credentials with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, become null and void upon the completion of this transition and/or two years from the beginning date of service outside the United Brethren Church.
5. Reinstatement of Credentials
Ministers desiring to have credentials reinstated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, must do the following:
a. Demonstrate that their credentials are in good standing from their denomination/affiliation of origin.
b. Provide evidence of previous credentialing with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
c. Be examined by the Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team.
d. The Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team approves the favorable recommendation from the Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team.
e. The Pastoral Ministry Leadership Team determines the appropriate ministry credential to issue.