Licensing Toward Ordination (LTO)

Pastoral Ministry  Evaluations  Transitions  Relationship

Licensing toward Ordination   Ordination   Licensing for Specific Ministry   Commissioning   Transferring Credentials

The licensing toward ordination credential "is usually issued for a minimum of a two-year period for the purpose of testing the inner and outer call to ministry. Further discerning of ministerial gifts, abilities, and aptitude may or may not lead to ordination. … The license credential ends when the person is ordained or is no longer serving in the present ministry assignment."
A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership: Polity Manual for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.
Harrisonburg, Kitchener, MennoMedia, 2014 p. 36-37.

Beginning the Process

  1. The licensing process formally begins when the candidate's congregation sends a letter to the church leadership minister requesting that the candidate be licensed toward ordination. This letter must include a statement affirming the gifts, character and calling of the minister.  
  2. If the licensing request is for a ministry position outside of the congregation then a letter of request must come from the congregation, as well as, the organization(s) that employs the minister. 
  3. The Licensing Toward Ordination checklist helps to outline the LTO process for candidates and congregational leaders, noting what is expected and who is responsible.  

Preparing for the Interview

The licensing interview focuses on three things: (1) the candidate's call to ministry, (2) their theological understanding of the Christian faith, and (3) their commitment to serving within a Mennonite/Anabaptist faith community. 

  1. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Competencies and Education Narrative and Grid as they will be used in the discernment of one's licensing. 
  2. Once the letter has been received, the leadership administrative assistant will follow up with the candidate about what documents are needed for the interview. These include: 
    1. An up-to-date copy of the Ministerial Leadership Information Form (including references); and 
    2. A theological statement reflected in one's responses to Candidate Questionnaire for Interview (licensing). All of these documents must be sent to MCEC at least two weeks before the interview date. 
  3. From there arrangements will be made for an interview date. 
    1. Please note that interviews are 1 hour in length and usually take place during business hours at MCEC (50 Kent Ave Kitchener, ON).  
    2. The candidate is required to bring a congregational representative (and employer representative when necessary) along with them. The congregational representative is usually a church council chair, chair of the pastor/congregation relations committee, or an elder. This person does not have to do a lot of speaking, as the majority of the questions will be directed to the candidate. Leadership Council will affirm the candidate's areas of strength, and advise areas of growth. It is helpful for the congregational leader to hear about both, and work with the candidate in growth areas. If this person cannot attend in person, he/she can participate by video conferencing, but the candidate must be present in person.
    3. Interviewing committee members include: Church Leadership Minister, Two (2) Leadership Council Members, Reference Group Member and Recorder. 
  4. Questions that may be asked in the interview are outlined in The Interview Guide.  

Following the Interview

  1. The interviewing committee will put forth a recommendation to MCEC Leadership Council regarding a credential for the candidate. Leadership Council will meet to review the interview notes before approving the recommendation. Once approved, the church leadership minister will send a letter to the candidate, as well as a copy to the congregational representative, outlining the decision made. This letter will also include affirmation for areas of strength and outline areas of growth seen in the candidate. 
    1. The areas of growth are recommendations for the candidate to work at prior to an ordination interview. 
      1. One recommendation may be for the candidate to join the Transitioning into Ministry program (if not already a part of it) where they will be paired with a mentor.  
    2. The Growth and Orientation of Licensing document can also be used in determining next steps for the pastor. 
  2. With the approval for Licensing Toward Ordination, a date will be chosen for public recognition of this credential. A time and occasion will be scheduled when mutually agreeable to the ministering person, the church leadership minister and the congregation. 
  3. Once a credential has been received, be sure to annually complete the Accountability Plan for Leaders.

Celebration of Licensing

Licensing recognizes the important covenant of ministry. It is a covenant made in the presences of God between the minister, the congregation, and the regional church. Ceremonies for licensing provide the church with the opportunity to honour these occasions in the life of a minister, but are also important for the congregation and the church at large.  

The licensing ceremony, occurs in a worship service and may also happen simultaneously with an installation. The congregation chairperson and candidate shall be in touch with the church leadership minister to arrange the ceremony. It generally occurs as a special part of the regular worship service of the congregation, following the sermon. The church leadership minister or a representative of the regional church shall lead the licensing ceremony. Others from the wider church community may also be invited to attend or participate. 

In planning the licensing service, special attention may be given to having someone other than the person being licensed preach the sermon, perhaps the church leadership minister or a mentor/friend. Scripture and hymns lifting up the high calling, privilege, and responsibility of leadership and the mission of the church are appropriate. Inviting a representative of the regional church and other persons significant to the candidate to bring special greetings, read a scripture, or have a prayer may lend meaning and significance to this occasion. 

During the licensing ceremony, the church leadership minister shall ask the candidate particular questions in order to affirm commitment to Christ, devotion to the church, and faithful service in ministry. If a spouse so desires, the candidate's spouse may be invited to stand alongside the candidate during this ceremony as a symbolic gesture of support. A prayer of blessing, a statement of declaration, and a handshake follow the questions. 

If this is also an installation service, or if the minister works in the community and was never installed, then a covenant of ethics will also be signed during the service. 

Sample litanies are available from MCEC. Contact the MCEC leadership administrative assistant to receive a copy. 

Taken/adapted from Ceremonies of licensing, ordination and Licensing/Commissioning for specific ministry - part of the Ministerial Credentialing Series

For more information about this credential refer to A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership (Polity Manual for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA).

Page adapted from Ministerial Credentialing: A Guide to the Process part of the Ministerial Credentialing Series found at CommonWord. 

Pastoral Ministry  Evaluations  Transitions  Relationship

Licensing toward Ordination   Ordination   Licensing for Specific Ministry   Commissioning   Transferring Credentials