NASHVILLE, Tenn. (GBHEM/FYI) – A draft report by the Study of Ministry Commission for the 2008 General Conference proposes eight important recommendations about the ordering of ministry, including the creation of three classifications of ordained elders and separation of ordination from full conference membership.
The report, which is framed in the historic form of Methodist conferences as “minutes of several conversations,” is available at www.gbhem.org, along with an online survey to collect reaction to the report.
“The Commission is determined to draw on the collective insight and wisdom of all United Methodists in preparing this important report. And so we offer this initial draft of the report for examination and comment,” said William H. Willimon, bishop of the Birmingham Area and chair of the Study of Ministry Commission. “The Commission will consider all contributions in preparing the final document.” To comment, people are invited to read the report and then follow the link to take the online survey about the report.
The Rev. Mary Ann Moman, associate general secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Division of Ordained Ministry, and a member of the Study of Ministry Commission, said the draft reflects the commission’s work in addressing the General Conference request to bring clarity to the ordering of ministry.
“We are pleased with the Wesleyan model of questions and response. It is our expectation that this teaching document will become the catalyst for The United Methodist Church to discuss these important issues,” Moman said.
The commission recommended classifications of itinerant elder, associate elder, and local elder. Itinerant elder is essentially the same as the current classification of elder. All three could administer the sacraments, but associate elders and local elders could do so only in the charge to which they are appointed.
The other recommendations of the commission are:
The draft incorporates issues identified by the commission, as well as comments from the focus groups and results from an earlier survey.
The 2004 General Conference established the commission because of questions, concerns, and uncertainty regarding the two ordained clergy orders — deacons and elders — and local pastors. Both the 2000 and 2004 General Conferences received a large number of petitions related to certified lay ministers, local pastors, deacons, and elders. The Study of Ministry Commission was established to “theologically discuss and clearly define the ordering of our shared life together in The United Methodist Church.”
To read the report and take the online survey about the report, log on to www.gbhem.org and click on the Study of Ministry button.