From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Conference representatives discuss ordination probation periods

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 27 Oct 1998 14:58:01

Oct. 27, 1998	Contact: Linda Green((615)742-5470(Nashville, Tenn.

By Kathy Gilbert*

Representatives from ordained ministry boards and seminaries throughout
the United Methodist Church met in Nashville recently to discuss the new
three-year probation period for people seeking ordination as deacons and

"This is an historic event for the United Methodist Church, as the
Association of United Methodist Theological Schools has taken the
initiative to help annual conferences resource the new three-year
probation mandated in the 1996 Book of Discipline," said the Rev. Art
Gafke, a director in the division of ordained ministry of the churchwide
Board of Higher Education and Ministry.	

At least 44 annual (regional) conference ordained ministry boards were
represented at the Consultation on Probation, along with the 13 United
Methodist seminaries.

The consultation was sponsored by the Board of Higher Education and
Ministry as part of a four-year process of aiding annual conferences
with probation requirements for people seeking ordination, said Paul Van
Buren, a director in the deacons and diaconal ministries section.The
board is emphasizing mentoring, peer groups, and continuing theological
education for probationary members in addition to the supervisory and
screening responsibilities that
continue for conference boards of ordained ministry.

In the 1996 edition, the Book of Discipline specified for the first time
that probationers are commissioned, with some moving toward ordination
as deacons and others toward ordination as elders. Probation begins with
the completion of educational requirements, and ordination occurs with
the election to full membership in an annual conference after at least
three years of probationary membership.

As part of the consultation, the division of ordained ministry presented
principles and guides for probation that conference ordained ministry
boards can use in evaluating their programs. People from the Little
Rock, Mississippi, North Texas, California Pacific and Eastern
Pennsylvania annual (regional) conferences discussed how their
probationary periods are structured.  
For more information on probation, contact the Division of Ordained
Ministry, Section of Elders and Local Pastors, or Section of Deacons and
Diaconal Ministries, Board of Higher Education and Ministry, P.O. Box
871, Nashville, TN 37202; phone: (615) 340-7393.

# # #

*Gilbert is a staff member in the Office of Interpretation at the United
Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

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