Monday, August 27, 2007

Ministry Study

Yesterday we had a delegation meeting for those elected from South Carolina to attend next year's General Conference. Part of our discussion was the final report from our church's General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. In my very first post I wrote about their initial report and potential changes they proposed to the way we order ministry. The gist of GBHEM's final report was the recommendation that GC appoint another study commission for the upcoming four years to continue the work!

Still, the direction they propose includes some major changes: moving ordination to an earlier point in the process of the ministry journey, and separating ordination from full membership in the covenant connection of ministers. Though they suggest four more years of discussion, I wouldn't be surprised to see petitions at this GC relating to these same proposals.

I do like the idea of streamlining our process as much as we can. I like the idea of changing the nomenclature of the "probationary" years to "Residency." And basically I think the idea to move ordination earlier, (which would drastically reduce the number of LP's by making them Elders in Provisional Membership), along with not giving Local Pastors the authority to administer sacraments (except under extreme conditions by the authority of the Bishop), is a good recommendation - I just don't see how it would work out. So maybe it does call for more study and discussion. I hope to hear how others think about this.

1 comment:

Jim Elder said...

I must admit that this possible shifting of LP responsibility in relation to serving the sacraments concerns me greatly. I see it as lessing the function and "authority" of the position of Pastor, it further deepens an already existing chasm between the "ordained" and the "unordained," it creates broadens a hierarchal clergy class system, it deprives the congregation of the consistent celebration of the sacraments with their "pastor," and that's just the surface.

I also worry of the affect this will have on conferences in their relation to disgruntled congregations who believe the pastor, by virtue of being assigned to their church, has the right to serve the sacraments; the added responsibilities this will place on the ordained; and the exodus of LP from the UMC. And for those of us who have been ordained in another denomination, especially denominations that have a historical and doctrinal connection to the Methodist movement, it further deepens the sense of "unacceptable" that is felt (and yes, I have at times been made to feel that my ordination doesn't "measure up").

Why, with the lay history of the Methodist movement, do the "ordained" continually "tinker" with these things, causing confusion, frustration, bewilderment, and suspicion among it's servants - both pastor and laypeople alike?

Just wondering.