Are you member of a local church, or a seminarian interested in exploring a call to Authorized Ministry in the Northern California Nevada Conference? The United Church of Christ, our particular Christian movement, has excellent resources to help answer your questions about how to discern a call to ministry.
Authorized Ministry is granted to Ordained Ministers and Members in Discernment with Lay Ministerial Standing, while a local Conference license can be extended by the Committee on Ministry to laypeople on request of a Local Church where a direct accountability to the Conference is appropriate. Note: as of 2018, Commissioned Ministry is no longer an order of this denomination. Existing Commissioned Ministers in Retired Status continue to be recognized by this Conference. No new commissionings will be recommended by the Committee on Ministry, and our Associations have indicated they will not extend any new commissionings.
- An Ordained Minister is authorized by an Association of the United Church of Christ to preach and teach the gospel, to administer the sacraments and rites of the church, and to exercise pastoral care and leadership. An Ordained Minister is a representative minister of the United Church of Christ and is in covenant with the local church where she, he, or they holds UCC membership, the calling body where ministry is engaged, and the Association acting on behalf of the United Church of Christ. Once granted, ordained standing is ongoing and transferable to another Association; standing is always subject to review and requires a mindful relationship between the clergyperson, Association and ministry setting. The UCC Ministerial Code not only guides a clergyperson’s behavior in ministry but also provides an assessment tool for ongoing discernment and growth.
- A Member in Discernment with Lay Ministerial Standing (MID-LMS) is extended to individuals who are engaged in the United Church of Christ’s formal program for individuals like yourself considering a call to ordained ministry. In addition to the program of formation prescribed for the Member in Discernment (MID) process, Lay Ministerial Standing is conferred as a time-limited lay ministry within the MID’s home context while the MID progresses toward ordination. While holding MID-LMS, the individual is accountable to the UCC Ministerial Code, including processes of oversight and accountability. MID-LMS is not automatically extended to all MIDs, so discuss this possibility with COM-A if you’d like to explore it further.
- A Conference license is authorized by the Northern California Nevada Conference to laypersons performing specific duties in a designated local church or within that Association, mainly preaching and conducting services of worship for a designated time. Licensed ministry is frequently authorized, for example, when a local church needs pastoral and sacramental leadership but an ordained minister is not available. The Conference, in consultation with the local church requesting a person’s licensure, determines the specific duties and length of time for which the license is granted. A license is not transferable and must be renewed annually.
If you feel ready to begin a process of exploring authorized ministry, you should begin the process of requesting status as a Member In Discernment. Click here to learn how to request status as a Member in Discernment from the resources for Section A of our Committee on Ministry, which will be your discernment parter. Or you may contact Elane Johnson directly on email or by phoning (510) 247-8990 as the staff liaison between Section A and discerners.