August 2020

Authorizable Call:

What is an authorizable call? What is an ordainable call? What is the difference?

The 2018 Manual on Ministry sets the standards for ordainable and authorizable calls: the call is covenantal, the call responds to the needs of the church and the call involves mutuality in ministry between the minister and the community. An ordainable call is a call to a position “serves God, Jesus Christ, the Church Universal, and the United Church of Christ in such a way that ordination is necessary” (MOM, Section 2, Article 5 Calls, Covenants, and Endorsements). Traditionally, this has meant a call to a position requiring representative ministerial service, including presiding at the rites and sacraments of the Church. While baptism and communion may not be frequent occurrences in a particular call in order for it to be considered “ordainable,” the likely possibility of this being a part of one’s ministry is an appropriate consideration.

An authorizable call, according to the Manual on Ministry, is “that call by which, following appropriate discernment processes, an ecumenically ordained minister is granted ministerial standing: Dual Standing, Ordained Ministerial Standing through Privilege of Call, or Ordained Ministerial Partner Standing. An authorizable call refers to a call for which a minister is tasked with representative, ministerial service on behalf of the United Church of Christ and through which a covenantal relationship of UCC ministerial standing is established” (MOM Section 2, Article 5 Calls, Covenants, and Endorsements). In addition to discerning that a call be authorizable for the recognition of ecumenically ordained ministers, some Committees on Ministry across the denomination are requiring that a UCC minister’s call be determined as authorizable in order to maintain Ordained Ministerial Standing.

Hospital chaplaincy, prison chaplaincy, college and university chaplaincy, hospice chaplaincy and other forms of chaplain work are generally considered both ordainable and authorizable by the COM. Ministerial service in a UCC congregation or other UCC ministry setting is likewise ordainable and authorizable. However, not all authorizable calls are ordainable calls. This normally happens because of requirements from other institutions that require some set amount of ministerial experience. One example of a call which is considered authorizable and not ordainable is chaplaincy for a government agency. Government chaplaincies require a certain period of post-ordination experience which prohibits them from being ordainable, but the call may be considered authorizable to maintain standing.

Additionally, not all work that an ordained minister engages is necessarily an authorizable call. For example, a minister working in a food pantry serving meals to individuals who do not have the means to purchase a meal may view this work as an authorizable call to maintain standing in the Association. The Committee on Ministry must discern whether such a position is sanctioned or sponsored by a local UCC congregation, whether the minister leads religious services or Bible studies at the facility, performs pastoral counseling or ongoing group therapy, or presides at rites and sacraments performed at the food pantry. If the answer to all of these considerations is “no,” as worthy work and ministry as it may be, this position unlikely to be considered an authorizable call.

1. Should the Committee on Ministry require that their ministers be involved in an authorizable call in order to maintain ministerial standing in the Association? What are the implications on clergy annuitants who are not presently serving in a pastoral capacity but do not have Exempt Standing? What about those ministers who have been in search and call for a significant period of time?
2. Take the case of a minister who serves as a military chaplain from another denomination. They come to the Committee and would like to transfer their endorsement for military chaplaincy from another denomination to the United Church of Christ. Is this an authorizable call? What would be the process by which the Committee would work with the United Church of Christ Endorser to complete this transfer?

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Upcoming MESA Zoom Trainings
Given the continued global pandemic related to COVID-19, the MESA team has returned to offering live Zoom trainings for Committees on Ministry and others. All trainings require advance registration; a confirmation email will then be sent to registrants with additional information. Here are the upcoming offerings, which are also available here:

August 19, 3:30 – 5:00pm ET
Welcoming Ecumenically Ordained Ministers with the Rev. Elizabeth Dilley
What do the acronyms OMPS and FOA stand for, and what do they mean? What is the difference between Dual Standing and Privilege of Call? Do ministers from other denominations need standing in the UCC in order to serve? What is the role of the COM when a congregation is considering a candidate ordained in another tradition? Join Elizabeth Dilley for conversation and exploration of how the UCC welcomes ecumenically ordained ministers.

September 16, 6:30-8:00pm ET
Keeping to Core Competencies of COMs During Video Meetings with the Rev. Dr. Tony Clark
This webinar will explore the ideas of confidentiality, covenant making, and creating policies in this season of social distancing and video meeting. The UCC expects its COMs to have a high level of integrity and trustworthiness; to ensure the work of COMs continues to be highly regarded, we may need to gain some awareness of the differences between meeting in person and meeting by video. There will be some examples of using video meetings to craft space for those meeting with the committee to hold a healthy sense of self. This conversation will be based on the Core Competencies of Committees on Ministry and their members, found in the Manual on Ministry, p. 14-16.

September 23, 3:30 – 5:00pm ET
What New Ministers Should Receive on Day One with the Rev. Jeff Nelson
What do incoming ministers most wish they could know as they begin in a new setting? This webinar will be an exploration of documents, resources, and conversations that may best set up a minister for success, as well as how departing ministers, lay leaders, and congregations may participate in providing them to better ensure a good beginning.

Categories: Column COMma

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