Ordination Paperwork in the UMC: A Provocative Proposal

I have been working to complete my paperwork for ordination and full membership as an elder in the Kansas West Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. I realized that this vast body of theological thought is going to waste after it is being turned in. It would be a great gift to the church if these were made publicly available. This would give a pulse of the theology of those entering ministry and provide a roadmap for where the denomination may be headed in the years ahead. A service such as http://turnitin.com could be utilized to maintain the integrity and original thought required as part of the process.

I will post my paperwork here in the days ahead. I welcome your thoughts, feelings or opinions about my work.

8 thoughts on “Ordination Paperwork in the UMC: A Provocative Proposal

  1. I’m turning in mine in a week as well. The Board got rather indignant when I asked about posting them on my blog before I turned them in. Seems it should be by own words not the crafted thoughts of a group. That’s not my sentiment but I respected their process.

    There’s a great diversity in responses so I’d be supportive of such a project.

  2. Interesting to know they have a site like that! I know of an instance where two people plagiarized the same answer from a blog which might be why boards are hesitant for people to post their writing? I’d love to be part of this to see how others are being shaped in their ministry settings!

  3. I think there would be an interesting cross-section of theological understanding as well as a means of support for this sometimes isolating process (especially since we aspire to be a connectional church).

  4. Posting them after the paperwork deadline would seem important to me, for self protection. If there is ANY question of plagiarism, how do you prove which was the original author? Better to come to the board with less than perfect paperwork than to be suspected of cheating. You may think I am being overly cautious or cynical but people try to skirt the process in lots of ways…and the Board doesn’t look kindly on it.

    I disagree that without a public forum the papers are going to waste. Hopefully the process of writing them was clarifing and growth-inducing for you, and they will be a marker of your theological development in years to come. You didn’t post all your seminary papers on-line did you? Just you and the instructor read them, does that mean they were all a waste?

  5. Seriously – People are plagiarizing ordination papers, wow I’m speechless – I sure hope they were thrown unceremoniously out on their ears. It makes one long for the days of Ananias and Sapphira.

    But seriously – I love Andrew’s idea, I believe congregations should know their pastors basic theological convictions before being forced to take them on as a Pastor. I think many faithful would be shocked by the content of their clergy’s theological positions.

  6. Lifelong Methodist…forgive me if I’m misreading, but it almost sounds like you’re saying the congregation approves /disapproves the pastor’s theology. In the UMC, a board of ordained ministry approves whether the candidates theology is in keeping with United Methodist theology (there are boundaries, but freedom as well). The congregation doesn’t choose their leader, the pastor is sent by a bishop & cabinet of Elders.

    On the topic in general: I think it’s ironic that we hope & pray for collaboration and teamwork for the kingdom ‘in the body of Christ’, yet we form people in ways that are lasting and less than collaborative or community building.(i.e. individual candidates cramming to study, learn and say everything they think the board wants to hear, that they might be accepted and given a shot at ministry) I also feel that there is a level, not of secrecy, but not forthrightness maybe in sharing our theology. It’s one thing to guard the mysteries of the faith from the uninitiated, and another to ‘not cause a fuss’ with challenging ideas. I think the process for candidate approval needs to be more personal and intentional/relational with a body over time…and not a board for a sitting. The board should get a sense of you, and you of them, by working alongside each other in some context, and not putting on a good face for an afternoon. maybe this would be more indicative of fruitfulness for ministry? I think the sharing of papers/information would be excellent in an archival fashion documenting the theology of the day…and collaborative engagement for the candidates, working off & with each other’s ideas/experiences/discipleship.
    grace & peace,
    JDM

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