BOM to Host Feedback Session at September "Gathering"
Board of Ordained Ministry Chair Carol Bruse, pastor of West University UMC, comments on the process -- and outcome of the clergy candidacy proposal - and the need for new strategies to replenish the ‘retirement gap’ expected in the next decade. Clergy can contribute to the conversation at next week’s conference at Lakeview.
Charged with overseeing the entire candidacy process for the conference, the leaders of the Board of Ministry (BOM) – some 70 strong -- are intensely focused on strengthening the future viability of the denomination, particularly in the TAC’s nine districts. While the BOM’s initial proposed ‘guidelines’ for minimum standards for entering candidates garnered considerable support from laity throughout the conference, it generated enough concerns to prompt a withdrawal of the proposal this summer.
As a follow up to continue the conversation, BOM Chair Rev. Carol Bruse will facilitate an hour-long discussion at next week’s clergy retreat at Lakeview to solicit ideas on desirable ‘next steps.’ Notes Carol, “As an older, second career clergy myself, I can understand how these guidelines might have been taken personally, but the intention was to plan for the future in the face of very skewed age demographics in the United Methodist church – an ongoing challenge we will discuss candidly next week. As the BOM Chair, I feel very responsible for addressing the length-of-service challenges and I look forward to hearing new ideas on how best to meet the leadership needs of our church.”
Lay Leader Stephanie Griffin is grateful for dedicated men and women who are working to address the issues the TAC faces in the future. “With less than 10% of TAC clergy being 35 or younger,” she says, “it is important for us to inspire and encourage young men and women to respond to God’s call to ministry. In the light of Acts 2:17 we must give young men and women the opportunity to see visions and our old men and women to dream dreams. If we are to become a transformational force in this world we must unite and work as one with one purpose - to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. That will take all of us; old and young; lay and clergy.”
Just the Facts
A snapshot of the UMC reveals the stark realities of clergy recruitment and the age balancing act. BOM members at the retreat will listen to suggestions as clergy divide into small groups to address new ways to extend the years of service to meet appointment demands in the future. The discussion will also focus on meeting the needs of the “mission field” throughout the varying communities that we are called to serve.
After the group discussion at The Gathering, BOM members will convene in October for their business meeting and work session to prepare a new proposal for the June 2014 Clergy breakout session at Annual Conference. Task force members Rev. Jonathan Bynum (Bear Creek UMC) and Rev. Jon Stouffer (First UMC Dayton) are enthusiastic about developing a new proposal that is a win/win for all.
As Jonathan notes, “The original minimum standards proposal has initiated serious discussion among clergy about ordination and clergy recruitment at all levels. The Board of Ordained Ministry can use this opportunity to equip everyone in the ordination process--the candidates, the DSs, the SPRCs, the DCOMs, and the BOM--with tools that will help think through and discern how each individual can best serve in ministry. We don't want to be perceived as trying to ‘keep anyone out’ of ordained ministry. Our intention is to faithfully work with those who sense a calling to ministry so they can find the best expression of that calling, whether as a lay person, Certified Lay Minister, Local Pastor, Deacon, or Elder. All are God-glorifying positions of ministry.”
Tweaking the Process
“Many may not realize that the Board of Ministry credentials candidates and the Cabinet appoints them, so I also hope to tighten this partnership in the future for greater consistency and effectiveness,” adds Carol. “There needs to be a closer connection between the needs of our mission fields and the leadership that we as a conference can provide.”
“One concept that remains at the forefront of this discussion is that those that are called to ministry have many options to serve, whether lay, licensed or ordained service. It is important to remember that the church grows fastest when lay people are actively using their gifts and graces. This new proposal or guideline will not be about age, but about excellence and the future of God’s church,” adds Carol. She welcomes input of any nature to email@example.com