Called to Serve
Recently, 32 people from various backgrounds - of various races, numerous occupations, and even different languages – came together to be equipped for the ministry that God has called them to at the Texas Annual Conference’s Local Pastor Licensing School.
“This eclectic group of would-be pastors quickly became a community united around the goal of preparing them for God’s work. They spent time learning from some of the best folks around the Texas Conference. And during meals and breaks they spent time learning from one other. The work that God was doing beneath the surface was just as significant, and maybe more so, as the work being done in the classroom,” says TAC Local Pastor Licensing School Dean Mike Lindstrom.
And that classroom work is not for the faint of heart. Seminars in preaching, church administration, stewardship, self-care, evangelism, and many more subjects filled the six-plus days these pastors spent in the Central Building meeting room at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center. “These set-apart persons were asked to assimilate a great deal of information in a short period-of-time, and they did so with grace and eagerness,” Mike says.
At the end of the week, many were given their license to serve as pastors in a local charge, which is where we get the term ‘Local Pastor.’ These persons, affirmed in their calling by their District Committees on Ordained Ministry, began serving churches on, or in some cases, before the first of July.
“They have the right and privilege and responsibility to serve all pastoral roles – from preaching to the sacraments to administration – in their local charge. In that regard it is a limited role and different from an ordained Elder who can serve in pastoral and sacramental ways in any place at any time. Local Pastors have been an integral and important part of the Methodist Church since its beginnings in the late 1700s,” Mike explains.
Other students were affirmed as Certified Lay Ministers. This is a relatively new designation in the church, which does not give any pastoral authority to the person. Mike explains that Certified Lay Ministers do not perform the sacraments and rarely administer the life of the local church. “They may, however, fill a pulpit and offer a word as preacher,” he says. The Methodist Church recognizes them as having been properly trained and encouraged in this work when they are certified.
For more information about the Local Pastor Licensing School, contact one of the deans: Dr. Jerome Brimmage (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rev. Mike Lindstrom (email@example.com).