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Licensing toward Ordination   Ordination   Licensing for Specific Ministry   Commissioning   Transferring Credentials

"Ordination is a joint act of the congregation, the area conference, and the denomination, which call and appoint a member to ongoing leadership ministry in the life and mission of the church. The ordination act includes the covenant between the church and the person being ordained, the laying on of hands, and the prayer of blessing for ordination."

A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership: Polity Manual for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.
Harrisonburg, Kitchener, MennoMedia, 2014 p. 19.

Beginning the Process

  1. To be ordained in the Mennonite church one must first be licensed toward ordination
  2. If you are already ordained and coming from another faith tradition, please refer to the transfer of ordination process. Link to: E Level Site - TRANSFERRING CREDENTIALS
  3. Be sure to use the Congregational Discernment for Ordination document to help guide the discernment process. 
  4. The ordination process more formally begins when a letter from the candidate's congregation is sent to the Church Leadership Minister requesting the candidate be ordained. This letter must include a brief report of the discernment process. 
    1. If the ordination 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. 
  5. The Ordination checklist helps to outline the Ordination process for candidates and congregational leaders, noting what is expected and who is responsible.  

Preparing for the Interview

In contrast to the licensing interview, which focuses on the call to ministry, theology, and compatibility within the Mennonite/Anabaptist context, the ordination interview focuses more on reflection based upon ministerial experience. While it will undoubtedly touch on all of the above for review and update, more attention will now be given to emerging issues of ministerial identity as they have grown during the licensing time. It is also a significant time to reflect upon the meaning of ordination and the person's long-term commitment to this role within the church. 

  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 ordination. 
  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. All of these documents must be sent to MCEC at least two weeks before the interview date. These include: 
    1. An up-to-date copy of the Ministerial Leadership Information Form (including references),  
    2. Theological statement reflected in one's responses to Candidate Questionnaire for Interview (ordination),
    3. Statement reflecting on the meaning of ordination, its privileges and responsibilities, and the accountability relationships contingent upon it, 
    4. A written report and statement of support from the pastoral mentor; and 
    5. Recommendations from licensing interview (MCEC will likely have these on file already) - special attention will be given to these recommendations and what the candidate has done to work towards them. 
  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).  
    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, Regional 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. 
  2. The areas of growth are recommendations for the candidate to work at. 
  3. With the approval for Ordination, there will be a determination of a date for the public recognition of this credential. Such a time and occasion will be scheduled when mutually agreeable to the ministering person, the church leadership minister, the congregation, and others from the supporting pastors and friends of the candidate and congregation. 
  4. Once a credential has been received, be sure to annually complete the Accountability Plan for Leaders.

Celebration of Ordination

Ordination 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 ordination 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 congregation chairperson and candidate shall be in touch with the church leadership minister to arrange the ordination ceremony, which is usually a full worship service. Even more than a licensing ceremony, ordination becomes a high point in the life and ministry of the candidate. It is a time for great rejoicing by the congregation and wider church community. For the candidate, it is an opportunity to make a reaffirmation before God and the congregation of one’s call to ministry. Others from the wider church community may also be invited to attend or participate. 

Together with the regional church, the congregation also has the privilege of affirming that call and the candidate’s gifts for ministry as they have been experienced throughout the licensing period. In calling for the candidate’s ordination, the congregation and regional church are commending this person to the entire church as one called and capable of Christian ministry. It is an important and special occasion for the candidate, the congregation, and the regional church. 

Service Design and Planning 

Together with the congregational chair (or elder/deacon chair) and in consultation with the candidate, the regional church minister shall initiate plans for the ordination worship service. 

A date shall be set and advance notice of the ordination will be given so that all those with an interest in the candidate's ministry may be present. It may be advantageous to have the service at a time other than the regular Sunday morning service so that colleagues from other congregations may participate - perhaps Sunday afternoon or evening. 

Speak directly with the candidate's spouse prior to the planning of the ordination service to discern the level of involvement the spouse may wish to have in the ordination service.  

Ordinations include worship design and expressions ranging from liturgical solemnness to holy celebration in order to honour the significance of this event for the one being ordained, for the local congregation, and for the larger church. Care must be taken to plan and incorporate elements of worship with special meaning to the candidate. The traditions of the congregation and the regional church will also be given due respect in planning for the service. 

A common pattern for an ordination service includes: hymns, scriptures, a sermon (or series of shorter meditations), litanies, and prayer. The ordination ceremony led by the church leadership minister includes the presentation of the candidate, examination questions, the laying on of hands by significant persons represented (while the candidate kneels), a prayer of consecration, and presentation of a certificate. (See Minister’s Manual, pp.144 -162, “The Calling and Setting Apart of Leaders.”) 

Special attention may be given to additional creative or artistic dimensions of worship in planning the service - special music, the use of banners, a worship center with symbolic colors or arrangements, liturgical readings, or dance. 

A traditional sermon may be preached by someone the candidate specially invites, or as an alternative to a sermon, several persons important to the candidate may be invited to share. Including the participation of other persons significant to the candidate (family, mentors, former pastors, teachers, colleagues, other ordained pastors from the regional church or community, regional church representatives, etc.) through readings, prayers, music, in giving greetings or blessings, personal sharing or in the laying on of hands, will add meaning and significance to this important occasion. 

The focus, however, must remain on the worship of God and blessing the ordained for ministry in the church rather than on reciting his/her biography or eulogizing his/her qualifications for the office. 

Traditionally a congregation will find ways to enhance the celebration of the event by hosting a meal or a reception. 

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

Adapted from Ceremonies of licensing, ordination and Licensing/Commissioning for specific ministry - part of the Ministerial Credentialing Series found at CommonWord. 

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