What Is Authorized Ministry?
The United Church of Christ speaks of ministry in this way in its Constitution:
20 The United Church of Christ recognizes that God calls the whole Church and every member to participate in and extend the ministry of Jesus Christ by witnessing to the Gospel in church and society. The United Church of Christ seeks to undergird the ministry of its members by nurturing faith, calling forth gifts, and equipping members for Christian service.
21 The United Church of Christ recognizes that God calls certain of its members to various forms of ministry in and behalf of the church for which ecclesiastical authorization is required. Recognizing God’s call, the ecclesiastical authorization is granted by [a Conference acting as] an Association through the rite of ordination, through commissioning, licensing, granting either ordained ministerial standing or ordained ministerial partner standing and other acts of authorization.
What this means is that we in the Penn Northeast Conference encourage every church member to serve Christ in word and deed, and thereby fulfill the promise of their baptism.
In addition, we recognize three forms of ecclesial authorization-ordination, licensing, and commissioning-for certain U.C.C. church members who are called by God; whose call, gifts and personal integrity are affirmed by a local UCC congregation and the Conference; who have successfully completed a recognized educational program designed to prepare them for professional ministry; and who are adjudged by the Conference to be ready for ministerial leadership in parish and non-parish Christian ministry settings.
This section of our web site deals with issues and concerns involving these three forms of authorized ministry: ordained, licensed, and commissioned ministry.
… an ordained minister serves either in a parish (i.e., local church) or non-parish (e.g., chaplaincy) setting recognized by the Penn Northeast Conference. This person typically has received a bachelor’s degree from an ATS-accredited college or university as well as a Master of Divinity degree from a U.C.C.-recognized seminary.
… a licensed minister typically serves in P.N.E.C. as the solo pastor of a small congregation or as an assistant pastor in a larger church. This person has received at least a high school diploma (although some of our licensed ministers have post-secondary degrees), and has successfully completed the three year Lay Ministry in the 21st Century educational program (or a comparable course of study) and has undertaken two to three years of supervised training by a local church pastor.
… a commissioned minister is authorized to provide leadership within a Conference-recognized parish or non-parish setting in terms of a specific type of Christian ministry, such as education, parish nursing, or music. This person has received a post-secondary degree in the area of ministry specialization for which she/he is authorized, and she/he has successfully completed the three year Lay Ministry in the 21st Century educational program (or a comparable course of study).
The Penn Northeast Conference Board of Directors has delegated covenantal oversight of P.N.E.C. authorized ministers and congregations (as well as of persons preparing for authorization) to three standing committees …
• the Church and Ministry Committee exercises pastoral oversight over all ordained ministers and their churches
- the Licensed and Commissioned Committee exercises pastoral oversight over all licensed ministers and their churches, as well as over all commissioned ministers, and over all persons preparing for licensed ministry in P.N.E.C. or commissioned ministry in the U.C.C.
- the In-Care Committee exercises pastoral oversight over all persons preparing for ordained ministry in the U.C.C.
- Please note, in addition, that …•the Ministerial Compensation Committee, comprised entirely of lay members of P.N.E.C. congregations, publishes a booklet each year entitled “Compensation Guidelines for Authorized Parish Ministers and Directors of Christian Education and Youth” -a copy of which can be obtained at Salary Guidelines
The United Church of Christ has a long history of accepting the authorization of ordained clergy from other Christian faith communities, provided such candidates for U.C.C. authorization are able to satisfy the same requirements and qualifications for professional ministry as persons who prepare for ministerial authorization within the U.C.C. setting. Email the Conference Office for more information about the “transfer of ordained standing” process (which can take as much as two years to complete).
A complete account of perspectives and procedures for ecclesiastical authorization of ministry is to be found in the United Church of Christ’s Manual on Ministry, a copy of which is available for in-house examination in the Penn Northeast Conference office’s Resource Center. The Manual on Ministry may also be purchased through UCC Resources (800-537-3394).
Ordained clergy who wish to serve as interim ministers in the Penn Northeast Conference need to receive authorization for this form of ministry from the Conference’s Church and Ministry Committee. Similarly, licensed ministers who wish to serve as interim ministers must be authorized for such ministry by the Conference’s Licensed and Commissioned Committee.
An ordained interim ministers works closely with a P.N.E.C. Placement Team consultant and the local church search committee in helping the search committee to develop a congregational profile for circulation among clergy who are interested in a possible pastoral call to that church. As a condition for authorization to do ordained interim ministry in PNEC, all interim ministers must participate in a day long workshop designed to acquaint interim clergy with the responsibilities of this task.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org at the Conference Office for more information about the requirements and procedures for interim ministry in PNEC.