I’ll admit, this one’s a bit personal.
One of the reasons that I’m passionate about Campus Ministry is its solid track record of producing new, young clergy. Unfortunately, in the United Methodist Church we feed those young prospects into an Ordination Process that is often unfriendly. There are a number of potential hurdles that can trip up unprepared or simply unfortunate candidates, and sadly the consequences can often be fairly brutal. Aside from the obvious exaggeration in panel 3, this comic is based on my own personal experiences. Like many of my colleagues, I fell victim numerous times to having my paperwork “misplaced”- with the last instance actually setting me back a whole year in the process even though I had done nothing wrong myself. God brought some great things out of that snafu (my Residency class was actually really great), but it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes things go wrong that could (seemingly) be prevented easily.
Having said all of that, I’m not really interested in having a pity party or drumming up sympathy for myself- I was ordained 5 years ago and no longer have to worry about that stage of my life. I am, however, interested in drawing attention to an ongoing issue that continuously threatens to derail and discourage potential clergy attempting to enter and survive the Ordination Process. If we expect candidates to give their best and to commit their lives to serving God within our Church, we as a Conference and as Districts should be giving our best to support, encourage, and do whatever it takes to help those candidates answer the calling which God has issued in their lives. In short, when it comes to persons giving of themselves wholly to what we as a Church claim as our mission, there is no excuse for lost paperwork, unreturned phone calls, or absentee mentors.
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Thanks for reading, and congratulations to all of the clergy who will be commissioned or ordained this year!