Have you ever thought about the process a person must follow in order to become a Licensed Local Pastor or an ordained Deacon or Elder in the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church?
When someone senses the movement of the Holy Spirit in his or her life and responds to God’s call to servant ministry, how does that person move from “call” to being appointed where their gifts and graces will serve God’s people? Every United Methodist who says “Here I am Lord, send me!” enters into a journey that seeks to assess their spiritual, psychological, and physical readiness for ministry, as well as their potential for effectiveness. The process is outlined in The Book of Discipline, 2012 (¶301-¶399) and the District Committee on Ordained Ministry Handbook which can be found on the Virginia Conference website at http://www.vaumc.org/ncfilerepository/MinServices/DCOMHandbook.pdf.
Candidates for ministry are guided along this journey by the District Superintendent, the DCOM, clergy mentors, their home church, and their pastor. They are vetted through a series of interviews and examinations of their religious beliefs and practices. They also undergo a series of background checks and psychological and medical examinations. They must be approved by their home church SPRC and charge conference. All of this is designed to ensure the candidate is called of God and has the gifts and graces to serve and lead as God’s representative. The work of the DCOM does its part in sending forth those who demonstrate readiness and effectiveness in ministry to serve the local church as licensed, commissioned, and ordained clergy.
The DCOM continues to monitor all candidates to ensure they are moving forward in their call and journey. Each certified candidate for ministry is required to meet with the DCOM annually for recertification. In addition, each Local Pastor appointed to a church comes before the DCOM to share the good news of their ministry in the previous year and offer the DCOM offers its support for the year ahead. We celebrate the work of our Local Pastors for they do great work for the Lord. Many are bi-vocational with the challenges of church and family. We are grateful for their response to God’s call and their service on the Rappahannock River District.