Annual Conference – Provisional Membership

This morning I’m getting ready to head off to my second day of Annual Conference.

Yesterday we began with worship and communion in the morning and some introductory business. In the afternoon we divided up into separate clergy and lay sessions. The clergy session was held at First UMC in Des Moines.

In the United Methodist Church the clergy (Elders) are members of the Annual Conference rather than the local church as in my previous Baptist background. The Clergy Session elects individuals in their different processes of ministry including determining who can have membership in the conference as clergy, be authorized to fill different ministry roles, and who will be ordained. These decisions are made at the recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the body that oversees minister training, education, and formation.

As an already ordained pastor (elder – to use UMC terminology) I have been worked to transfer my ordination to the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church. This as been a multistep process which alls the Conference to examine your credentials, you theology, your gifts, and your fitness for ministry.

For me this began with a decision to seek placement in the UMC beginning with a conversation with a good pastor friend who is in United Methodist ministry. This led to conversations with the local District Superintendent and then meeting with a committee of the Conference whose purpose is to examine those seeking placement from outside the UMC. This involved my answering questions about my desire to serve with in a UMC church as well as my understanding of UMC doctrine and faith.

So in January of 2010 I received aproval for placement in the Iowa Conference. This was not a guarantee of placement. It was only approval for me to be eligible if the Bishop and cabinit found position opening that they believed I fit into.

In late April 2010 I received a call from the District Superintendent asking me to consider an appointment to First UMC in Cedar Falls as an Associate Pastor. I then had meetings with the Senior Pastor and the Staff Parish Committee of the church before being placed by the Biship beginning July 1, 2010.