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Methodists/Seeking answers on being a Local Pastor

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Question
Dr. Neal,
I am exploring the idea of becoming a FT local pastor, however the Upper NY Conference web site does not provide quite enough information. To do this, I would come out of retirement @ 61.
I recently finished a course for Certified Lay Speaking and expect to get my "official" certificate shortly.
My questions are: 1) What are requirements educational wise for Local Pastor?
2) What are the proper steps to take (I know about the dozen or so forms to be filled out)to carry out the process?
3) How do get a mentor? Or is that my local Pastor?

Thank you in advance.
John

Answer
Dear John,

The first thing you need to do, no matter what, is go speak with you pastor.  This is always the first step toward any kind of ministry.  You pastor will take you through the initial steps to ministry as a Licensed Local Pastor.  You will read a book entitled "The Christian as Minister" and discuss its contents with your pastor.  You will then meet with your church's SPPRC and they will interview you regarding your call to ministry.  They will then recommend you to the Church's Conference, which will vote on you as a candidate and send you to meet with the DS.  The DS will assign you to a meeting with the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, where they will interview you in an "introductory meeting."  Following that meeting the DS will assign you a Mentor-Pastor, who will guide you through the rest of the process.

Educational requirements:  (a) An undergraduate degree, (b) Course of Study or Seminary, (c) Licensing School.  The proper route for you, given your age, is probably Course of Study.  You will need to confer with your DS regarding Licensing School and the dates of your conference's Course of Study program.

I hope this helps to outline the basic initial steps and what you can expect.  Some elements may vary from Conference to Conference, but for the most part this is the process as outlined by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

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Rev. Gregory S. Neal

Expertise

I can answer questions dealing with all issues of United Methodist Doctrine and Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. In particular I can answer questions dealing with the Sacraments and other liturgical and worship-oriented questions. I can also answer questions dealing with the form, structure, and organization of the United Methodist Church and our relationship with other denominations.

Experience

I am an ordained United Methodist Elder with more than 20 years of ministerial service experience in the local Church.

Organizations
I am a Clergy Member in Full Connection and have been a member of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1991. I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. I am also a member of the Emmaus Community, and am currently serving as Senior Spiritual Director for the Dallas Emmaus Community. I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke in the United Methodist Church.

Publications
I have my own website: www.RevNeal.org.   I have written two books, "Grace Upon Grace" and "Seeking the Shepherd's Arms," both available at Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Education/Credentials
I have a BA in Religious Studies, History and Russian. I have an M.Div in Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies and a Ph.D in Sacramental Theology and New Testament.

Awards and Honors
Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church
Fellow of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

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