Dianne Glave: Ministry & Church

Posts tagged ‘commissioning questions’

Trying to be Ordained

My hand wavered over the “Enter Title Here,” for this post. It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. And then, I started to type the list of things that have been keeping me busy but that goes back to why I’m so busy: keeping lists.

So as Sherlock Holmes once said in the recent film starring Robert Downey, Jr., “Let’s crack on.”

Yesterday, I officially became a provisional elder. I am grateful that I have been affirmed and encouraged through much of the process by so many people. I have shared heart-felt thank you’s over the last 24 hours by phone, text, and email. Praise God.

This whole ordination thing is a mystery to people inside the United Methodist Church (UMC), even clergy striving to become elders to be ordained. So for those of you who are not UM’s, here goes on the commissioning questions and interviewing.

Just know this latest hurdle has been difficult with written work submitted and interviews with five panels composed of clergy and church members. I delayed the written work to take a year to complete it because it required much research, thought, and energy. Being a full-time local pastor in a busy church of 1800 members was a challenge completing the questions. Know the interview process ran from 9a-3p. The process is to affirm the call by God among individuals seeking ordination.

Though I’ve made it through this hurdle in the process, it saddened me that one person was delayed in 2013 and was there again with me–approved finally, and another was delayed having to complete written work and interview again in 2015. When I explained all this to my father, my biological father, he was stunned. He said, “Should I come for the ordination this spring?” I said, “Nope. Maybe 2016.”

Keeping my dad’s response in mind, I don’t think people understand that the process can be draining and for those “doing well” and debilitating for those who don’t “score” well. That scoring could include the moving target of being evaluated as effective clergy on a day-to-day basis in the local church or “failing” the psychological exams. Some of the evaluative tools could be considered subjective.

So my heart goes out to those I know, those who have been delayed and worse those I don’t know who have been diverted from ministry or departed on their own weary steam.

Having used words like debilitating and weary, I am concerned that young people, women, and people of color including African Americans, just to name a few, finishing seminary are not opting for pulpit ministry in the UMC and other denominations.

Right now being so fully immersed in the ordination process–if all goes well I will be ordained in 2016–I pose these concerns but don’t have many answers. Do you?

Starting to answer the commissioning questions? Bibliography and other information.


 Western Pennsylvania Conference, United Methodist Church

Questions may vary from conference to conference

See 2012 Book of Discipline for Questions

(1)            Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological and historical sources.

(2)            What is your understanding of evil as it exists in the world?

(3)             What is your understanding of humanity, and the human need for divine grace?


(4)             How do you interpret the statement “Jesus Christ is Lord”?

(5)           What is your conception of the activity of the Holy Spirit in personal faith, in the community of believers and in responsible living in the world?

(6)            What is your understanding of the kingdom of God; the Resurrection; eternal life?


(7)            How do you intend to affirm, teach and apply Part II of the Discipline (Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) in your work in the ministry to which you have been called?

(8)           Discuss your understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity.

(9)            How do you perceive yourself, your gifts, your motives, your role and your commitment as a provisional member and commissioned minister in the United Methodist Church?


(10)        Describe your understanding of diakonia, the servant ministry of the church, and the servant ministry of the provisional member and commissioned minister.

(11)         What is the meaning of ordination in the context of the general ministry of the church?

(12)         Describe your understanding of an inclusive church and ministry.

(13)         You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God.  What is your understanding of this agreement?


(14)        The United Methodist Church holds that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason.  What is your understanding of this theological position of the Church?

(15)         Explain the role and significance of the sacraments in the ministry to which you have been called.

(16)         Describe the nature and mission of the Church.  What are its primary tasks today?

Elder Commissioning Resources, United Methodist Church

So you want be an elder? Over several years, I’ve learned it is not quite that simple. A better way of phrasing this is: has God called you to the ministry as a pastor through the Word—preaching and teaching, Sacrament—communion and baptism, Order—administration and service—to the local congregation and larger community? God sent me on quite a journey that led me to be a local pastor in Pittsburgh Metro and prayerfully an elder in the United Methodist Church in the future.

Right now, I am working on commissioning questions and answers. I thought a collection of resources would be a start in gathering my thoughts and helping others too.


Resources for Commissioning Questions (Updated August 3, 2015)


Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV)

Wesley Study Bible (NRSV)

Class Notes (variations of these classes required):

UM Theology

UM Polity

UM History

Christian Theology

Christian Ethics


The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2012)

The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church (2012)

Abraham, William J. and James Kirby. The Oxford Handbook of Methodist Studies

Barth, Karl. Dogmatics in Outline

Campbell, Ted. Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Collins, Kenneth J. The Scripture Way of Salvation: The Heart of Wesley’s Theology

Denomination Comparison (pamphlet)

Felton, Gayle Carlton. This Holy Mystery: A Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion.

Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

Frank, Thomas Edward. Polity, Practice, and the Mission of the United Methodist Church

George, Carol V. R. One Mississippi, Two Mississippi: Methodists, Murder & the Struggle for Racial Justice in Neshoba County.

Hamilton, Adam. Confronting the Controversies: Biblical Perspectives on Tough Issues

Heitzenrater, Richard P. Wesley and the People Called Methodists

Heitzenratner, Richard P., ed. The Works of John Wesley Cd or Hardcover

Hickman, Hoyt L. Worshipping with United Methodists.

Jones, Scott. United Methodist Doctrine: The Extreme Center

Kalas, J. Ellsworth. Being United Methodist: What it Means Why It Matters.

Langford, Andy and Sally. Living as United Methodist Christians: Our Story Our Beliefs Our Live.

Langford, Thomas A. Practical Divinity: Readings in Wesleyan Theology

Langford, Thomas A., ed. Doctrine and Theology in the United Methodist Church

Long, Thomas. What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith

Maddox, Randy L. ed. Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism

Maddox. Randy L. Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology

Matthews, Rex D. Timetables of History for Students of Methodism

Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology
Nickell, Jane Ellen. We Shall Not be Moved: Methodists Debate Race, Gender, and Homosexuality.

Outler, Albert C. ed. John Wesley’s Sermons

Outler, Albert C. John Wesley

Plancher, William C. Essentials of Christian Theology

Proctor, Samuel D. and Gardner C. Taylor. We Have This Ministry

Richey, Russell E. ed. The Methodist Experience in America: A Source Book

Richey, Russell E. The Methodist Experience in America, Vol. 1: A History

Ricoeur, Paul. Evil

Runyon, Ted. The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today

Warner, Lacyeye C. The Method of Our Mission: United Methodist Polity & Organization.

Watson, David Lowes. God Does Not Foreclose: The Promise of Universal Salvation

White, James F. Sacraments of God’s Self Giving (ordered)

Willimon, William H. Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry

Willimon, William. United Methodist Beliefs: A Brief Introduction

Yrigoyen, Charles, T & T Clark Companion to Methodism


Heitzenratner, Richard P., ed. The Works of John Wesley Cd or Hardcover

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2012)


Ministry of Elder

Pastoral Appointments: Overview

Kentucky Conference, United Methodist Church Commissioning Question Tips

Mark Calhoun’s Answers

Scott’s Thoughts on Questions

Rev. Neal on Questions

When asked specifics I plan to focus on Care and Creation so will be using the following:

Barnett, Tanya Marcovna. Greening Congregations

Gottlieb, Roger S. This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment

Hessel, Dieter T. Christianity and Ecology

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