One of the proposals before Gen. Conf. is to separate ordination from conference membership and to move it to the point where we now commission persons for ministry. The Study committee has asked for four more years to study this, but I believe that many of the things in their report will be dealt with at this GC.
The underlying desire for this and several other proposals is to streamline our process. It is the most cumbersome of any denomination, including the Roman Catholic (according to comments by some members of the Study Commission). Lovett Weems and Ann Michel report in their book, The Crisis of Younger Clergy, (2008) that the number of Elders under age 35 dropped from about 3200 to about 85o during the past 20 years. We must do something to reverse this.
So, help me out - what do you think? Some have asked, "If we ordain early, and then the person does not attain conf. membership for whatever reason, how do we 'un-ordain' them? Are we ready for a different understanding of ordination? Are there parallels to the way the Baptists ordain very early in local churches, leaving employment open ended?
I entered the UMC back in the days of the two ordination process, ordained first as a Deacon, then 2 years later as an Elder. We can't return to that process, but I do know that leaving seminary and going into my first full-time church apppointment as an ordained minister meant a lot to me, at a time when I was still uncertain whether I should be in parish ministry.
Any opinions or suggestions before the motions and votes start flying around at General Conference?