Texas Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee withdraws minimum standards proposal

by The Rev. Josh Hale*

The Texas Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry’s Executive Committee has withdrawn the controversial “Proposed Minimum Standards for Entering Candidates” proposal which has been under consideration during the past year. The proposal had attempted to offer guidelines regarding the age levels acceptable for different levels of ministry, with some suggesting that the proposal limited candidacy for ordained ministry to persons under the age of 45. The decision to withdraw the proposal was made at a special meeting of the Executive Committee on August 14.

The standards proposal has been before the entire Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) however it had not yet been discussed and brought forth for consideration by the full board. Drafts of the proposal had been leaked and brought forth widespread criticism by those who believed that setting the guidelines reflected a form of ageism.

The Executive Committee meeting initially divided into working groups to review results from the survey sent after the clergy session of the Texas Annual Conference. These groups analyzed both positive and negative responses from over 300 clergy and lay members of the annual conference. After reforming to hear the analysis, each board member present was offered a chance to speak. The Executive Committee then unanimously voted to withdraw the proposed minimum standards document from consideration.

The committee then engaged in conversation regarding the charge to the BOM from the annual conference’s Strategic Assessment Team to re-balance the age of clergy serving in the conference, and from the previous quadrennium’s Board to raise the bar for candidates entering the process. Two clergy members presented an alternative to the proposed minimum standards that focused on gathering information from Pastors/Staff Parish Relations Committees as they recommended members for candidacy. A task force is being formed to further develop this plan as well as documents needed to educate conference members. They will also be developing resource for gathering information early on in the ordination process which help to better call, form, and retain excellent clergy.

The BOM will conduct listening sessions at this September’s clergy gathering and at the bishop’s district meetings with clergy and laity this fall. Board officers will use the feedback from these sessions to further shape the Board’s work “to study and interpret the clergy needs and resources of the annual conference” (2012 Discipline P635.2a).

The full Board will meet in October of 2013 and will receive recommendations from the task force at that meeting.

*An unabashed snob about theology, coffee, and Star Trek, Josh Hale is an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference serving Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogodoches, TX, and a member of the Texas Annyal Conference Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee. Josh is married to Christie (who is also an elder), is geekdad to 4 super kids, tweets frequently @expatminister and blogs at http://www.expatminister.org

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3 Comments on "Texas Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee withdraws minimum standards proposal"

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scott d
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Josh…are you sure it had been before the entire Board of Ordained Ministry?
I have been told by a member of the board that it had never been presented to them.

gingerlouise
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I have a hard time wrapping my head around this concept and am grateful that this seems to have died on the vine. Limiting certifying candidates based on age? Honestly, this really confirms for me that my conference was more interested in me when I attempted the process before I turned 30, and was more unwilling to allow me to resume it when I hit 40. So many people my age and younger are already leery of the church hierarchy why add fuel to the flames? And for some reason, I don't think Christ wanted to limit the age of… Read more »
UMJeremy
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I would appreciate understanding how "drafts of the proposal had been leaked" is an accurate phrase to use when the document was offered up by the BOM for review on the Texas AC's own website. That doesn't sound like a "leak" to me.

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