RULES RELATING TO LICENSED AND ORDAINED MINISTRY
1. All rules relating to licensed and ordained ministry shall be presented to and voted on by an executive session of the clergy of the annual conference prior to being presented to and voted on by a plenary session of the annual conference. The voting response of the executive session shall be reported to the plenary session of the annual conference by the conference Rules Committee.
2. The Candidacy Process. (¶¶310, 311, 312, Book of Discipline) There shall be a three-year time limitation for persons to complete exploration and declared phases of the candidacy process (from the date of assignment of the Candidacy Mentor by the District Committee on Ordained Ministry to date of certification by the District Committee on Ordained Ministry). Each certified candidate for ministry shall have a yearly interview with the District Committee on Ordained Ministry.
3. Pastoral Ministry Licensing Schools. The Conference Board of Ordained Ministry shall be authorized to develop and conduct Pastoral Ministry Licensing Schools for the West Virginia Annual Conference. All non-provisional members of the annual conference who are candidates for licensing shall attend the West Virginia Annual Conference Pastoral Ministry Licensing School unless permission is given by the executive committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry at the request of the cabinet. A person seeking a license under the provisions of ¶315 must have completed the requirements for candidacy and been certified as a candidate for ordained ministry by the District Committee on Ordained Ministry in order to be eligible to attend Pastoral Ministry Licensing School. (Additional requirements and provisions for licensing can be found in the Book of Discipline, ¶¶316 & 317)
4. Associate Membership. Pre-requisites for associate membership shall include the completion of a minimum of 60 hours from a college or university recognized by the University Senate, in addition to any hours gained from evaluative programs; no more than 50% of their classes may be taken by correspondence or on-line.. The 60 classroom hours shall include at least 12 semester hours in English composition and literature, six in philosophy and/or religion, six in sociology, three in natural sciences and three in speech or public speaking. (Book of Discipline ¶369.1)
5. Pastors. Persons appointed for the first time as local pastors shall complete the first year requirements of the Course of Study school within 18 months of that appointment. Pastoral charges shall allow local pastors who are under new appointments to attend the Course of Study school in the first and subsequent years of appointment so they can comply with requirements of the Book of Discipline (¶318.1 and ¶318.2.) and this rule. Local pastors who have completed the Course of Study shall follow the appropriate guidelines for continuing formation. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree from a college or university approved by the University Senate shall be completed before conference scholarship funds are available for graduate theological study or advanced Course of Study.
6. Ordained Elders In Full Connection. Pre-requisites for elders in full connection with the West Virginia Annual Conference shall include a Master of Divinity or equivalent first professional degree, from a school of theology approved by the University Senate. For those on a degree track no more than 66 2/3% of their classes may be taken by correspondence or on-line. Classes required by the Board of Ordained Ministry include: Old Testament; New Testament; theology; church history; mission of the church in the world; worship/liturgy; evangelism; United Methodist doctrine, polity, and history; preaching; pastoral care; and church administration, provided, however, that classes in preaching and pastoral care may not be taken in correspondence or on-line format. Associate members may request to be approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry, in consultation with the cabinet, to enter the advanced Course of Study in preparation for the process leading to provisional membership and the possibility of being admitted to membership in full connection without a Master of Divinity degree. Associate members seeking full membership and who are moving toward ordination as elder, shall follow ¶322.4 of the Book of Discipline with the addition of a bachelor’s degree from an approved college or university. Associate members or local pastors who are moving toward ordination as elder provided by ¶324.6 Book of Discipline shall have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree from a college or university recognized by the University Senate before beginning their graduate theological studies or its equivalent.
7. Order of Elders Coordinating Committee – Appointment and Term
- The Order of Elders shall, at the first session following the General Conference, elect an Order of Elders Coordinating Committee, consisting of a number of elders equal to twice the number of districts in the Annual Conference and such additional at-large members nominated by the Bishop to enhance the committee’s inclusiveness, for a term of four years. This Coordinating Committee shall be directly amenable to the Order of Elders, notwithstanding its organizational relationship within any other agency of the annual conference. Each member shall be an elder in full connection. The Bishop shall nominate members after consultation with the chairperson of the coordinating committee, the executive committee of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and the cabinet. An elected member of the coordinating committee may serve a maximum of three consecutive four-year terms. (The provisions of this paragraph basically follow the procedure for appointment and terms, as provided in Book of Discipline ¶635, for the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.)
- The chairperson of the coordinating committee shall be a member of the coordinating committee, and shall serve as a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry and its executive committee. (As specified by Book of Discipline ¶¶308, 634) The chairperson shall be nominated by the Board of Ordained Ministry, after consultation with the membership of the coordinating committee prior to the quadrennial annual conference at which new officers are elected, and elected quadrennially by the Order of Elders. (Book of Discipline ¶308)
c. In response to, and furtherance of, God’s covenantal order, and in conformance with those purposes set forth in the Book of Discipline¶306-308, the Order of Elders coordinating committee shall have the following responsibilities and authorities:
- (1) To resource the members of the order in remembering, developing, and strengthening the distinctive nature of their ordination, as servant leaders of the church.
- (2) To resource, facilitate and promote elders’ recognition of and full participation in the “blessedness of the connection” which is a unique and dynamic cornerstone of United Methodism.
- (3) To resource, facilitate, and promote the imperatives of spiritual direction, development, and discipline within the order.
(a) In the event that the conference does appoint a conference spiritual life director(s) (or persons(s) to like or similar position(s) the coordinating committee shall consult with the bishop and other appropriate conference leaders regarding the appointment and continuing work of this conference spiritual life director(s) (or persons(s) to like or similar position(s).
(b) In the event that a conference spiritual renewal retreat center for clergy is developed, the coordinating committee shall actively participate in its formation and ongoing ministry.
- (4) Torepresenttheorderinconsultationwiththebishop,cabinet,andConference Board of Ordained Ministry regarding matters of spiritual development, concerns within the appointment system, the evolving understanding of itinerancy, and the well-being of the order.
- (5) To actively seek improved communications and meaningful covenantal relationships among elders, in order to enhance awareness of their needs and to facilitate development, understanding and representation on behalf of the order.
- (6) To represent the order to the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry; and to present to the board, consistent with applicable conference budgeting procedures, the financial needs of the coordinating committee, for inclusion in the budget of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.
8. Residency Program. All provisional members shall be a part of the residency program during the first three years of provisional membership which follow the completion of the educational requirements for full connection. The residency program will count as continuing formation.
9. Recognition of Orders From Other Denominations. Persons transferring from other Christian denominations and holding credentials or ordination, may have them recognized and approved by the members in full connection, as deacons or elders, on recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Orders determined to be equivalent to deacon’s or elders orders in The United Methodist Church, regardless of the nomenclature and privileges granted by other denominations in question, shall be limited to the rights and privileges granted to the order for which they are approved under the authority of our Book of Discipline.
10. Continuing Formation. All full, provisional and associate members of the annual conference, who are in an effective relationship with the annual conference, and full-time local pastors who have completed the Course of Study, shall be granted at least one week each year and at least one month each quadrennium for continuing formation. Such leaves shall not be considered as part of the clergy person’s vacation. (¶351, Book of Discipline). In addition, all full, provisional and associate members who are in an effective relationship with the annual conference, and full-time local pastors who have completed the Course of Study shall be required to participate in and complete 4 CEU’s of continuing formation (or its equivalent of 40 contact hours) every two years under the accountability of the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the Order of Deacons, Order of Elders or the Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors. Certificates of completion are required.
11. District Committee on Ordained Ministry. When possible, a minimum of one and a maximum of two associate members or local pastors who have completed the Course of Study shall be included as members of each District Committee on Ordained Ministry. A quorum for all District Committees on Ordained Ministry shall consist of fifty percent of those persons eligible to vote.
12. Vacation. All full members of the annual conference, provisional members, associate members and full-time local pastors who have completed the Course of Study school shall be entitled to four weeks’ vacation with pay (four Sundays), each appointive year (July 1-July 1). Student local pastors, part-time local pastors, and full-time local pastors who have not completed the Course of Study school shall be entitled to two weeks (two Sundays).
13. Parsonage. A parsonage shall be provided for each active pastor serving a charge as elder, associate member, provisional member moving toward ordination as an elder, and full-time local pastor. Each is required to live in a parsonage unless permission to live elsewhere has been granted by the cabinet. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted by the cabinet after consultation with the Pastor-Parish Relations committee of the involved church or charge. A retired pastor serving full time shall also have the option of living in a parsonage.
14. Mentoring Program. The Conference Board of Ordained Ministry shall oversee a mentoring program for local pastors and provisional members.