The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young—let the wise, too, hear and gain in learning and the discerning acquire skill. (Proverbs 1:1-5)
As my time as your Conference Minister is drawing to a close, I find myself wanting to take an opportunity to talk about some of the things that have been a big part of my Conference life over the past many years. One of those topics is the work I have done with Committee on Ministry Section B around the Life-Long Learning Requirements for Authorized Ministers.
Solomon’s wisdom reminds us that we never stop learning and to grow in our personal life and in our profession, we need to set aside time for the sacred work of learning.
At our last Boundary Training, I shared with leaders how I celebrate our Life-Long Learning requirements for the importance they offer for the health, support, and wholeness of our pastoral leaders and, by extension, for our congregations. I said that I would never support a requirement just for the sake of it being a requirement and that, to me, Life-Long Learning Requirements for Authorized Ministers are quite the opposite. They are put into place to ensure Authorized Ministers who engage in public ministry take time to step aside from daily work to focus on themselves.
In the Northern California Nevada Conference, we have four requirements for all Authorized Ministers engaged in ministry: Boundary Training once every three years; Racial Justice Training once every three years plus 1 hour of Racial Justice Training on the years when the full six-hour training is not taken; 15 hours of continuing education each year; and 2 hours of California-required Mandated Reporter Training every three years. (Please note: Mandated Reporter Training is required by the State of California every two years and it is the employer who is responsible to make sure their employees follow through. We support this by including it with our Life-Long Learning requirements.)
Retired Ministers no longer have to report Continuing Education but are required to follow all the other requirements. Ministers who have applied for and received Exempt Status are, as the name implies, exempt from these requirements.
As 2022 closes, we are aware that there are many ministers who are out of compliance on one or more of these requirements. There are quite a few Authorized Ministers (this includes Commissioned, Licensed and Ordained Ministers as well as those with Lay Ministerial Standing) who are out of compliance on either Mandated Reporter Training or Boundary Training or both. Some have been out of compliance since December 31, 2021, and have been informed that if they do not complete these requirements by the end of January, their standing will be suspended.
Further, there are about 130 ministers who will be out of compliance on Mandated Reporter Training as of December 31, 2022, and 60 ministers who will be out of compliance on Boundary Training on that same day. Those ministers will receive a letter in the new year informing them that they are out of compliance and will have six months to complete their requirements.
It is always possible that an Authorized Minister has just forgotten to upload their documents through the Ministers’ Portal. (Link: https://ncncucc.org/ministers-dashboard/) It’s not too late to get your documents uploaded before the end of the year.
Mandated Reporter Training can be done online in about two hours. (Link: https://mandatedreporterca.com)
I celebrate that, for the most part, our Authorized Ministers are consistently reporting Continuing Education which means they are following through on opportunities to keep learning and growing. There are six ministers who are in danger of their standing being suspended if they do not report by January 31, 2023, and 45 ministers who will be out of compliance on Continuing Education reporting as of December 31, 2022.
Racial Justice Training is the newest requirement, approved by Annual Meeting delegates in 2020. The decision was made that ministers would have three years to complete Racial Justice Training, which means that if you have not taken this training yet, you have until December 31, 2023, to complete Racial Justice Training. (And, as a note, if you took Racial Justice Training in 2020, we are working on a Level 2 training that you will be able to complete by December 31, 2023.)
While much of what I have written is about the health and safety of our Authorized Ministers and our local churches, there is one more reason why these requirements are so important. Most insurance companies require that the minister be in good standing and have competed requirements such as the ones we have in place. This is another way that our local churches are protected.
If you are an Authorized Minister who is in danger of being out of compliance, I ask that you please address this for your own sake as well as for your church. If you are a lay leader, I encourage you to support your minister to compete these requirements—it is a gift to them as well as to the entire church.
Solomon’s words echo in my mind as I think about how important is a commitment to Life-Long Learning.