What is An Ordained Minister?

What is An Ordained Minister?

Ordained Ministers are people who have completed the non-degree program of basic preparation for ministry outlined by The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

people in white and red traditional dress

They are licensed to preach; they may serve as conveners, officers or assistant officers of churches; and they may baptize, solemnize marriages, assist at Holy Communion and conduct memorial services.

Ordained Ministers may be ordained to the office of Elder after six months in service to a church. This probationary period is subject to termination if qualifications are not met.


An additional two years of experience is required before ordination as an Elder. A male ordained Minister seeking full connection must become an Elder before his fortieth birthday (or within four years after receiving ministerial credentials, whichever is later).

Within six months of being ordained an Elder, a male Minister must connect with a local church. For every year that has elapsed beyond six months since his ordination to Elder, he will be required to serve one additional year before becoming eligible for membership in The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

Things You Should Know

Ordained Ministers are non-voting members upon entering the program and may become voting members by completing work toward an undergraduate degree while remaining active in the field ministry. They must also complete their Bachelor’s Degree within eight years of completion of basic ministerial preparation or forfeit their voting rights.

An exception to this rule may extend the time limit up to four years if Oblate status is obtained through Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.   

Ordained Ministers must be fully supportive of the five core values and fully engaged in the work of their connexion college. They must regularly attend and participate at all Jurisdiction College of Bishops meetings and may not hold a Jurisdiction College office, but they may serve on committees.

Ordained Minister candidates are expected to undertake a period of supervised ministry before ordination. A candidate who has completed ministerial preparation through another denomination, with whom The Western Jurisdiction is in full communion, may also be ordained as an Ordained Minister if he or she has been engaged in full-time Christian service for at least three years after completing his/her ministerial preparation program.

If a person who is ordained as an Ordained Minister changes denominations, his ordination is not considered valid in The Western Jurisdiction. He may become well-qualified to be an Ordained Minister by completing the non-degree program of basic preparation for ministry outlined by The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

When a person becomes an Elder within The Western Jurisdiction, they are eligible for all rights and privileges of the voting membership. They may hold any position or office in their church or parish except that of Convener, General Presbyter or Prelate.   

Because this is a ministerial calling, not a degree designation, it carries with it no privilege other than that which accompanies the ordained pastor of a local church. Although this calling requires significant training and study, it is not a degree program.

Minnesota Annual Conference does not award certificates for completing the Ordained Minister program. They may be granted certificates by other UMC conferences in the area, if desired. However, Minnesota AC has agreed to accept any certificate that states “oral exam” has been completed for licensing into Minnesota AC without further review or testing.

Ministers who are ordained through another denomination (ex: ELCA) or via an online ordination process must go through the non-degree program of basic preparation for ministry outlined by The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops to be ordained as an Ordained Minister. They will need to complete an oral exam and a degree (that must be at least a Bachelor’s Degree) to become fully active and receive full voting membership.

All persons who wish to enter the program or seek ordination must live within one of the Western Jurisdiction Annual Conferences.

The Western Jurisdiction includes Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, California-Nevada, Colorado, Greater New Mexico, Hawaii Pacific, Iowa Great Lakes, Kansas East Kansas West Louisiana Missouri Montana Southwestern Nebraska North Dakota South Dakota Northwestern New York Northwest Texas Ohio West Ohio Upper Columbia River Valley Oklahoma Utah West Wyoming Wisconsin.   

Other UMC conferences or churches may not accept this type of ordination, so it is very important to contact the Jurisdiction College of Bishops well in advance to ascertain what steps are needed for Ordained Ministers from other denominations.

The Western Jurisdiction does issue certificates for completing the Ordained Minister Program which can be used when applying for licensing into other UMC conferences. 

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