Many CUGN students are completing their studies with us in order to serve God in some area of ministry. For those considering ordination, we are providing some basic information about the process for several major denominations as listed below. We encourage students interested in ordination within a particular denomination to visit the appropriate website(s) for more complete information. This document is meant to provide summary information only.
NOTE: The sources for all of the information in this document are the websites of the various denominations as listed under the denomination name.
Assemblies of God
Reformed Church in America
(Anglican Church of the Americas)
The Anglican Church of the Americas is an orthodox Anglican network of churches, ministries, dioceses, and provinces in the tradition of convergence theology and spirituality which emphasizes the evangelical, charismatic, and liturgical and sacramental aspects of the faith passed down by the Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostles and Bishops of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Candidates who are interested in applying for ordination or incardination should contact the following:
The Rev. Fr. Len Gavin
Chair, Committee on Holy Orders
2211 Regency Drive
Bessemer, AL 35022-6107
Please note that each diocese or province in the Anglican Church of the Americas has its own specific qualifications for the ordained ministry (the priesthood and the diaconate), but examples of the general requirements are:
- Application letter
- Letters of Recommendation
- Background Checks
- Educational Requirements
- Working Knowledge of the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Anglican Tradition
- Personal Interviews with Diocesan Committees on Holy Orders
- Personal Interviews with Diocesan Ordinaries
- Doctrinal Statements
- Spousal Approval
- Statement of Purity
- Clear Vision for the Ordained Ministry
- Acceptance of the Canons of the Church
- Acceptance of the Creeds of the Church (Apostles, Nicene, etc.)
- Other Requirements According to the Diocese to which application is made
- Final Approval by the Diocesan Bishop
(American Baptist Standards for Ordination)
1. PREREQUISITES FOR ORDINATION
The most important prerequisite for ordination, the call of God to a specialized ministry, does not yield itself to particular standards which a denomination or local congregation might establish. This is why the call must be tested by other prerequisites or standards, especially those having to do with licensing as first step toward ordination, meeting educational standards, and a prior call to a specific place of service in which the candidate intends to serve as an ordained minister. In these three areas it is quite appropriate that the local and the wider church (in the case of denomination, American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.) establish standards for ordination.
The candidate for ordination should be licensed by the church in which membership is held, in cooperation with the proper Association or Region at least six months prior to ordination. This provides the opportunity and the impetus for the church, both on the local and the wider level, to be involved in preparations for the ordination as well as to be a part of the Ordination Council. There are a variety of practices in the denomination which determine whether the Region or Association participates in the particular process of licensing as a first step to ordination.
1. A local church, well acquainted with the candidate, is making public the fact that the individual apparently possesses the ability and the spiritual and emotional qualities necessary for ministry, and that the academic training required for ordination is being received.
2. By receiving the candidate under their “watchcare,” a local church and the department of ministry are expected to give regular counsel in regard to vocation and professional training. Such counseling should be performed by the pastor, appropriate board or committee of the church, or the department of ministry.
1. The candidate makes known the desire to be licensed to the pastor and the appropriate committee of the church where he or she is a member. The candidate then will be interviewed to determine eligibility for licensing.
2. The church then requests the department of ministry to meet with the candidate.
3. Upon the recommendation of the department and the affirmative vote of the local church, recognition as a licensed candidate for ordination will be granted to the candidate.
4. The local church notifies the department of ministry of its action.
It is made clear to the candidate that the license is granted in anticipation of ordination and that it is valid for a maximum of four years unless the congregation revokes it.
There are three tracks which a candidate for ordination and ministry may pursue. Track I is considered to be the track most candidates will pursue in the American Baptist Churches. Any candidate wishing to pursue Track II or Track III MUST meet all requirements of these tracks and secure the written permission of the department of ministry PRIOR to entering either of these tracks.
The candidate for ordination shall meet the following educational standards:
A. The education prerequisites as adopted by the American Baptist Convention in 1961: RESOLVED, That the “educational standards of four years of college and three years of seminary (the A.B. and B. D. [now M.Div.] degrees or their standard equivalents) be the educational prerequisites for the recognition by the American Baptist Churches of candidates ordained after and including January 1, 1965. This action is not retroactive. It will in nowise affect the manner in which American Baptist Churches pastors ordained before January 1, 1965, shall be recognized. This action is accompanied with a call to all local ordination councils and local churches to prepare . . . prospective candidates for the implementation of this standard in 1965″ (1961 ABC Year Book, pp. 37-38).
It is the understanding of the Ministerial Leadership Commission that North American seminaries will be accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. In those cases where seminary education takes place in other than North American settings, refer to Track II.
B. A functional knowledge of American Baptist history and polity. This normally can be satisfied by a seminary-level course on both the history and polity of American Baptists or by a rigorous self-study course approved by the candidate’s Region.
C. The candidate’s professional ethics and intention of cooperation must be affirmed by accepting the Covenant and Code of Ethics of the Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches. All persons seeking ordination will have completed a course in professional ethics offered either by a seminary or a region. This course will consider areas such as professional boundary issues, relationships, confidentiality, ethics in financial matters, and other related issues which can dramatically affect the relationship between pastor and people.
D. Candidacy assessment. Ordained ministry involves more than academic attainment; it calls for ongoing pastoral competence, emotional and spiritual maturity, and consistent Christian character. Therefore, candidates for ordination will complete a comprehensive career and candidacy assessment program sponsored by or in consultation with an American Baptist related Career Development Center within five years prior to examination by the regional department of ministry. (Candidates of Track I are encouraged to complete this requirement no later than the first year of their seminary preparation.)
A. The primary education prerequisite for the recognition of candidates for ordination within the American Baptist Churches is reaffirmed to be four years of college and three years of seminary (the B.A. and M.Div. degrees or their equivalents). “College,” “seminary,” or “higher education” are terms used throughout this document to mean post-high school study in regionally or nationally accredited institutions of higher education, such study to have been done for credit while enrolled in a degree program.
B. “Their equivalent” may mean an experiential equivalent verified by the appropriate committee of the region as provided in this document. It may also mean another educational sequence (e.g., Ph.D. in religion) which may be approved by the department of ministry of the regional judicatory.
C. Exceptions to the educational prerequisite are not encouraged, but in certain instances individuals may apply for the recognition of their ordination without having completed four years of college and three years of seminary on the following conditions:
1. Experience as an equivalent to educational preparation is granted on the basis of two years of satisfactory professional growth and ministerial performance for every one year of academic preparation that is lacking in the candidate’s background, seven years of higher education being the norm.
2. The maximum experiential equivalency which may be granted is six (6) years, the equivalent to three (3) years of higher education.
3. To merit consideration as an exception to the educational prerequisite, the candidate’s professional experience must meet the following criteria:
a. It must have been within the broad range of professional leadership categories recognized by the registry of professional leaders of the ABC, U.S.A. Any requests to consider paraprofessional experiences must include substantiating evidence from third parties.
b. It must have been full-time experience (twenty hours per week or more).
c. It must be verified as to length and satisfactory professional growth and ministerial performance by the appropriate committee of the region, in which the candidate is presently serving. “Satisfactory professional growth and ministerial performance” is understood to include (in the judgment of such committees):
— satisfactory learning through the work experience;
— satisfactory growth in self-understanding and in understanding the nature and work of ministry;
— satisfactory competence in interpreting the Christian Gospel;
— satisfactory competence in understanding the forces shaping church and society; and
— satisfactory competence in leading the church community.
d. Evidence concerning the individual’s periodic involvement in professional continuing education experiences is required. The number and extent of such experiences will be weighed by the committee and utilized as one index of the candidate’s seriousness in pursuance of professional competency.
e. A functional knowledge of American Baptist history and polity. This can normally be satisfied by a seminary-level course on both the history and polity of American Baptists or by a rigorous self-study course approved by the candidate’s region.
f. The candidate’s professional ethics and intention of cooperation must be affirmed by accepting the Covenant and Code of Ethics of the Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches. All persons seeking ordination will have completed a course in professional ethics offered either by a seminary or a region. This course will include attention to areas such as professional boundary issues, relationships, confidentiality, ethics in financial matters, and other related issues which can dramatically affect the relationship between pastor and people.
g. Candidacy assessment. Ordained ministry involves more than academic attainment; it calls for ongoing formation of pastoral competence, emotional and spiritual maturity, and Christian character. Therefore, candidates for ordination or recognition of non-ABC ordination shall complete a comprehensive career and candidacy assessment program sponsored by or in consultation with an American Baptist related Career Development Center within five years prior to examination by the regional department of ministry.
If a regional department of ministry determines that alternative tracks to ordination are appropriate for an individual in the region, the following requirements for ordination will apply:
A. Candidates must be sponsored by an American Baptist congregation.
B. Candidates must qualify under one of the following requirements (or a combination acceptable to the region):
1. Satisfactory completion of seminary or comparable equivalent for ordination in another country, or
2. Satisfactory completion of a lay pastor program from a U.S. seminary or an ABC Region, or
3. Completion of at least seven years of pastoral service (deemed satisfactory by the region) as a pastor/lay minister of a church with at least three of those years in the region of the ordaining church.
C. A functional knowledge of American Baptist history and polity. This normally can be satisfied by a seminary level course on both the history and polity of American Baptists or by a rigorous self-study course approved by the candidate’s region.
D. Candidacy assessment. Ordained ministry involves more than academic attainment; it calls for ongoing formation of pastoral competence, emotional and spiritual maturity, and Christian character. Therefore, candidates for ordination will complete a comprehensive career and candidacy assessment program sponsored by or in consultation with an American Baptist related Career Development Center within five years prior to examination by the regional department of ministry
E. The candidate’s professional ethics and intention of cooperation must be affirmed by accepting the Covenant and Code of Ethics of the Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches. All persons seeking ordination will have completed a course in professional ethics offered either by a seminary or a region. This course will include attention to areas such as professional boundary issues, relationships, confidentiality, ethics in financial matters, and other related issues which can dramatically affect the relationship between pastor and people.
F. Candidates will be examined on issues of conversion and Christian identity, call to ministry, biblical and theological convictions (including Baptist history, polity, structure, and function), pastoral competence, and character (including ministerial ethics and spiritual disciplines).
4. STEPS TOWARD ORDINATION
A. The Candidate
1. The candidate will take the necessary steps for licensing.
2. After conferring with his/her pastor, the candidate will seek counsel from the region’s department of ministry as to procedures leading to ordination.
3. The candidate will be responsible for submitting documents as required by the region.
4. The candidate will inform the pastor and the appropriate local church committee concerning his/her readiness to proceed with the ordination process.
5. The candidate will select a sponsor. The role of the sponsor is to elicit the candidate’s theological stance, the individual’s understanding of who he/she is as a person, and the individual’s concept of ministry.
Assemblies of God
Gaining Ministerial Credentials
- Contact your District Council.
Applications for Assemblies of God ministerial credentials are made through the District Councils. You should contact the district council office for your area for information on how to apply for credentials with that district. You can find contact information for our District Council offices by using the Assemblies of God Church Directory.
- Meet the Qualifications for Ministry
Read The General Council of the Assemblies of God Constitution and Bylaws (Download PDF), which contains a section about qualifications for ministry in the A/G.
The Benefits, Qualifications, Process, And Responsibilities.
You can read about the benefits, qualifications, process, and responsibilities of ordination in our official position paper entitled “Pentecostal Ministry and Ordination.”
Should you have questions which cannot be answered by a district council office, you can contact the Assemblies of God general secretary’s office by email at Secretariat@ag.org. The general secretary’s office is charged with maintaining data pertaining to ministers and churches within our General Council. The general secretary’s web site is at GenSec.ag.org.
Do you feel called to the ministry? Figuring out if this is the right step for you is best done ‘in community,’ or by speaking with those who know your gifts and talents. These people include clergy from a local or home congregation, chaplains at schools, members of the Bishop’s staff or trusted friends.
Q: What is vocation?
A: Vocation comes from the root “vocare,” which means “to call.” It refers to our calling or our work. At its best, it applies to all of us. We all, as lay people or as ordained people, have a vocation, a calling. However, we have come to associate vocation with the ordained ministry of the church, most commonly with the priesthood.
A: In the Episcopal Church, there are specific requirements to be met in order to be ordained. These are found in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, Title III. While the Church seeks out those who meet the canonical requirements and who present themselves with a call, it is the responsibility of the Church to confirm such a call . In most dioceses, there are discernment programs to assist both the aspirant and the church in reaching agreement about those called to the priesthood.
Q: What are the accredited Episcopal seminaries and where are they located?
A: Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, New Haven, CT
Bexley Hall Seminary, Colu,bus, OH Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA
Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA
Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, TX
General Theological Seminary, New York, NY
Nashotah House, Nashotah, WI
School of Theology of The University of the South, Sewanee, TN
Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL
Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA
Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA
(Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
Your candidacy journey begins when you contact your synod office (by using the widget on the right hand side to search for synod email). At the synod office, you will be directed to the person/s who can talk to you about your discernment journey and the candidacy process, what forms are necessary and how to complete them.
“A list of all of the required candidate forms is available in the candidacy resource page.”
Download our Frequently Asked Questions list for further information.
If you have any questions please contact Sandra Mejia-Vega, Associate Program Director for Candidacy.
(Evangelical Presbyterian Church)
Assuming that the individual meets the biblical qualifications and has an inner sense of call, the process for becoming an ordained minister in the EPC involves:
- Being a member of an EPC congregation for at least six months
- Receiving Session endorsement as a person called to be a minister of the Word
- Applying to and interviewing with the appropriate presbytery committee
- Being examined by presbytery and approved as a Candidate Under Care
- Being under care of presbytery for a period of time (ordinarily a minimum of one year)
- Fulfilling educational requirements of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
- Seminary degree: M.Div. or equivalent including Koine Greek and Hebrew
- Sustaining written examinations in Theology, Sacraments, Reformed Tradition, English Bible, the Book of Order and the nature of the office of Minister of the Word.
- Sustaining oral examinations in all the areas above, Christian experience of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, and progress in spiritual growth.
- Receiving an approved call
In general terms, EPC ministers are expected to hold a high view of Scripture and be able to “receive and adopt the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture.” Those seeking ordination in the EPC must put in writing any exceptions they may have to the Westminster standards. Presbytery votes to disallow them or to allow them if they are not considered affecting the Confession’s system of doctrine.
The following resources can be ordered from epcresources.org, or by contacting the Office of the General Assembly at 734-742-2020.
- Westminster Confession (EPC Modern Language Edition)
- The Shorter Catechism (EPC Modern Language Edition)
- The Larger Catechism (EPC Modern Language Version)
- EPC Information Packet
- EPC Book of Order (including the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, Acts of the Assembly, and Service Forms)
The Reformed Church in America outlines its ordination process for Ministers of Word and Sacrament as a progression from the individual’s sense of call through ordination as follows:
- Internal call/External call—a personal sense of call affirmed by the church
- Local church consistory (governing body) applies on behalf of the applicant to the classis (regional governing body)
- Candidate appears before the classis or its committee for an interview.
- Classis petitions the General Synod (national governing body) for a Certificate of Fitness for Ministry, which will be issued upon completion of all requirements by the candidate no sooner than 27 months after the petition is received.
- Education (Master of Divinity degree)
https://www.rca.org/?pid=1990 (Reformed Churches of America)
(Southern Baptist Convention)
Actually, there is no standard process or policy concerning ordination in the SBC. In fact, the SBC cannot ordain anyone. The matter of ordination is addressed strictly on a local church level. Every Southern Baptist church is autonomous and decides individually whether or not to ordain, or whether to require ordination of its pastor. When a church senses that God has led a person into pastoral ministry, it is a common practice to have a council (usually of pastors) review his testimony of salvation, his pastoral calling from the Lord, and his qualifications (including theological preparation and scriptural qualifications according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9) for pastoral ministry. Based upon that interview the church typically decides whether or not ordination would be appropriate.
Some SBC churches require seminary training from an SBC seminary, while others may not, such a requirement is entirely up to the church.
Of course, every SBC church is free to approach ordination in the manner it deems best.
If you are a member of an SBC church and sense the Lord may be leading you into ministry, you may want to speak to the pastor and ask for his assistance.
http://www.gbhem.org/clergy/candidacy/starting-candidacy (Becoming a candidate)
Where to Begin
(1) Talk with your minister & read The Christian as Minister.
(2) Check your annual conference website for how to start and who to contact.
(3) To formally apply, write a letter to your District Superintendent outlining your call to ministry.
(4) Once you’re a candidate, you’ll be assigned a mentor–an ordained person who will guide you through the process.
(All Greek to you? Use our Glossary of Candidacy Terms.)
Deacons may receive a Master of Divinity (M.Div.), or they may obtain a Master’s degree in their work field plus 27 theological study hours.
Elders need a Master of Divinity from a seminary approved by the church.
Local pastors complete the Basic Five-Year Course of Study.
Scholarships and Loans
Half of finding funding is knowing where to look. First, contact the financial aid office in the schools you’re interested in, since many institutions offer scholarships. You can also find loans and scholarships available through GBHEM by visiting the Loans and Scholarships page. Also, each annual conference has a Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM), which helps candidates during the candidacy process; check with your BOM about scholarships. Oh, and a helpful hint: more scholarships are available for certified candidates!
The call to ministry is an exciting journey, yet there will be challenges along the way. For those just beginning this journey there is an online enrollment form available to help you begin this process. The Manual of Ministerial Preparation is one guide which will make the path to ministry more understandable. Students can use the academic requirements chart as a quick reference guide to the courses required for credentialing in the Wesleyan Church. Ministerial students will find that they have several options to completing requirements for credentials including attending one of our Wesleyan Colleges/Universities, approved seminaries, FLAME, or completing correspondence courses.