Member in Discernment

Responding to a Sense of Call to Authorized Ministry

As people formed in the image and essence of God, we are all called to use our God given gifts in the creation of a more just world for all. When a person senses a call to authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ, one enters into a process of discernment that involves interdependent and covenantal relationships with a local church, peer networks, national setting, ministry development centers, theological education, mentors, MID Advisor, and the Committee on Ministry. All these relationships help to form and examine the person’s capacity for ordained ministry and they provide accountability so that discernment is not practiced in isolation.

In the United Church of Christ, ministerial formation and authorization are overseen by Committees on Ministry in local Associations (and Conferences acting as Associations).

It is important for those who are exploring God’s call to partner early with their home congregation and a local Committee on Ministry. Once an individual is in covenant with a local church and a Committee on Ministry, the person is designated as a Member in Discernment (MID)

The first step towards becoming a MID is active participation in a Local Church for at least one year, in order to establish and demonstrate commitment to a particular faith communities ministry and to the UCC. The relationships developed through membership and the experiences of Local Church life allow the person, the pastor and the congregation to pay attention together to the person’s call. The pastor and the local church discernment committee (maybe a special committee or may an already established group like the church council) are the person’s first discernment partners.

If these partners agree that there is potential call to ordained ministry, the local church recommends the person to the Conference Wide Committee on Ministry (CWCOM) Formation and Authorization Subcommittee.

The CWCOM Formation and Authorization Subcommittee (FAS) provides support, assessment, and accountability for the person’s continued journey of discernment, and the team engages in its own discernment to determine whether the person’s call requires ordination.

A process of exploring authorized ministry with the FAS begins with a local church sending a letter requesting that a person be received as a Member in Discernment, (accompanied by the application materials from the person). and the status as a Member In Discernment of the local congregation, (the MID application form can be found here. )

Important documents for MIDs:

The discernment process with the Formation team is intended to be a powerful and sacred exploration that seeks to listen to the Spirit at work in our midst. The purpose of the initial meeting is to offer hospitality to the person and their accompanying guests, listen prayerfully to the movement of the Holy Spirit, engage in conversation about the person’s spiritual journey, outline expectations of the process and to clarify any questions. These meetings generally last up to an hour, and are most often held in a virtual space.

Following the meeting, the FAS determines whether to accept the person as a Member in Discernment. If the decision is no, the process towards ordained ministry ends at this point. If the decision is yes, the person is received as a Member in Discernment and a path forward is developed between the person, the Local Church, and the FAS outlining expectations for the discernment process. As part of the discernment process, the FAS will assign a MID Advisor to serve as an effective process guide for the MID, meeting regularly with the MID and at annual reviews and being available as a resource to clarify the discernment process as needed.

MID Authorization Process