Even my dean, Jeanne Serrao weighed in the conversation on ordination and its requirements. It's one that honestly we do not have in our hallway often enough.
.... some perhaps careless statements written in frustration....
My statements were written in "frustration" yes, but "careless," never. Just the opposite of not caring, actually. I would find it difficult to find a single student, current or former, or many colleagues, current or former, that would characterize me as being "careless" in any way. Speaking up on behalf of the young ministers who are, frankly, being pushed away from the very path God has called them to is living up to my calling. It is really the responsibility of all of us already in ordained ministry. I wish I was talking about those students that think they're called (but not really) or that try to circumvent the system in some way. It would be easy to dismiss my words and move on. The ones I'm hearing from, however, are the kind of people we want and need in ministry. Yet, many are going elsewhere, or simply falling out of love with a church that needs them.
All districts must recognize a validated course of study, if the candidate has completed it and presents a certificate/letter or other evidence indicating that from the educational provider. What Matt is complaining about involves someone who did not complete a validated course--they were lacking 5 courses. Since the candidate did not complete the validated course, it falls to the district board to determine what else is needed to complete the course of study. The solution here, as I see it, is for the candidate to finish the validated course of study they started and present the evidence of that to their district board.
"Must recognize," yes. Do they always? No. At least in my experience there is broad variation in how seriously credentials board or board of ministry take the validated courses of study. It usually boils down to the list of courses offered in the RIIE modules or from NBC. Validated courses of study cannot always be completed in one location or level, so the districts offer opportunities to complete it or the needed courses can be taken through other institutions.
My "complaining" is frustration in that the student is not being asked to take five courses in addition but NINE additional courses (nearly twice what it actually necessary). I could add other examples from other situations: not counting a course on ministering in pluralistic world because this phrase was not in the course title but meeting a competency embedded in three different courses. Or, asking a worship pastor of eight years to take a six session course in worship. Um, what? There are many ways to recognize the competencies necessary for ministry and taking courses is but one of the ways.
The frustration is felt in the skewed fashion that competencies are evaluated: what of previous experience? Conferences attended? Continuing education events? The evaluation by "course list" is the work of a registrar, and this is a diminishing of the valuable work of the district in mentoring and shepherding young ministers into ordained ministry. Checking off courses is an easy substitute for this hard work of walking with the next generation into the work of ministry.
As I understand it, it is the prerogative of the district to add qualifications for ordination in addition to a validated course of study depending on the context and needs of the district and the candidate. But they cannot say a person has not completed a validated course of study.
Lots of questions come to mind including, why validate courses of study if they are not valid everywhere in the region? I have no problem adding qualifications, but shouldn't these additional requirements also be validated? This is the "whims of a district board" that I mentioned in my first post this week (second paragraph). How does the student know the additional qualifications respond to a contextual need? How does the board justify contextual needs? Are there criteria to discern what needs to be added?
What is the criteria for adding qualifications? Shouldn't these qualifications be made available and ratified by other stakeholders in the process? By the way, I can say the same thing about university-taught courses of study: district boards, district superintendents, pastors and lay leaders should have a say in what constitutes adequate educational preparation for ministry. What if district assemblies were asked to ratify courses of study that have been ratified by the ICOSAC and RCOSAC.
Could this deter a district board from not recognizing any validated courses of study by just adding more qualifications to all of them? What then makes the course of study valid? What keeps a university of adding additional courses not required as competencies for ministry? The questions go both ways.
This process is clearly outlined in our USA/Canada Regional Handbook and Sourcebook. Perhaps all of us should read these so we are all on the same page.
i discussed the lack of clarity in the Sourcebook and the role of the district boards in a blog post on February 18, 2015.