Are You Called?

While we recognize the ministry of all believers and cherish the ministry of the laity in all its forms, we know that God calls some people into specific "set apart" leadership roles. Within the United Methodist Church, there are three basic ministerial roles: the ministry of the Local Pastor, the ministry of the Deacon, and the Ministry of the Elder. Each of these roles requires preparation that begins with the Candidacy process.

Local pastors are licensed by the bishop to perform all pastoral duties including the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion while appointed to a particular church. They are clergy members of the annual conference with limited voting rights while under appointment as full-time or part-time local pastors. Licensing is for one year at a time. Local pastors may also be appointed to extension ministry settings when approved by the bishop and the Board of Ordained Ministry.

The 1996 General Conference created the Order of Deacons. Deacons are persons called by God, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry of Word, Service, Compassion, and Justice, to both the community and the congregation in a ministry that connects the two. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship and create opportunities for others to enter into discipleship. Deacons interrelate worship in the gathered community with service to God in the world. For the sake of extending the mission and ministry of the church and offering the means of grace to the world, the resident bishop of the annual conference in which the deacon is appointed may authorize the deacon to preside at the celebration of the sacraments.Deacons are full members of the annual conference, called to a specialized non-itinerant ministry. Deacons, like Elders, must undergo a rigorous provisional membership process and extensive theological education.

Those who are in the Order of Elders are ordained to a lifetime ministry of Service, Word, Sacrament and Order.  They are authorized to preach and teach God’s word, to administer the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, and to order the life of the church for mission and ministry. As members of the Order of Elders, they make themselves available for appointment by the bishop and serve both within the local church and in settings which extend the ministry of the church. Once a seminary education and a rigorous provisional membership process is completed, they can apply to become full members of the annual conference.

Think you might be feeling the tug of God's call?

Here are resources to help:

Get help in figuring out next steps

Talk with your pastor or other trusted faith leader

Explore Your Calling

The Young Clergy Initiative

Forum for Theological Exploration

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Next steps into ministry