Local Pastors: Calling and Process

Called to be a Local Pastor

If God is calling you to become a pastor, but you do not see seminary as the best path for you, then you may want to consider becoming a local pastor. When appointed, a local pastor performs the usual duties of a pastor, including:

  • Preaching and teaching.
  • Leading in worship and liturgy.
  • Receiving new members.
  • Performing the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion in their appointment setting.
  • Performing the services of marriage (where state laws allow), burial and confirmation.

A local pastor answers God’s call to serve the mission of Jesus Christ typically by serving a local congregation in The United Methodist Church. They need not make themselves available as itinerant ministers and are not ordained or elected into full membership of the annual conference. Additionally, a local pastor’s authority is only within their appointment setting and does not extend beyond it. Local pastors serve under the authority of a license for pastoral ministry after completing the steps outlined in ¶ 315 of The Book of Discipline (2016) and meeting any annual conference requirements.

Learn more about the process by clicking here.

Summary of Steps to become a Local Pastor

  1. Become a certified candidate.
  2. Complete BOM-sponsored Orientation to Ministry (¶ 312).
  3. Successfully complete Licensing School or 1/3 of M.Div. degree.
  4. Be recommended by a ¾ majority vote of the dCOM and BOM for initial license and annual
    report.
  5. Receive approval for licensing by a ¾ majority vote of the clergy session.
  6. Receive appointment from the bishop.

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Local Pastor

Are there many local pastors serving in The United Methodist Church?

Today more than one-third of United Methodist churches are served by local pastors and associate members, and that number is growing.

Do local pastors make the same salary as ordained elders?

No. As ordained clergy and graduates of theological schools, elders are paid a higher salary than local pastors who are licensed and educated through the Course of Study.

Is a local pastor ordained?

The local pastor is not ordained in The United Methodist Church but is licensed for pastoral ministry to perform the duties of a pastor as described above

Does a licensed local pastor do the same things as an ordained elder who is pastoring a local church?

Yes and no. The local pastor performs all the duties of a pastor, including preaching; leading worship; performing baptisms, confirmations and funerals; officiating at weddings; presiding over communion; and receiving new members. The difference is that the local pastor is authorized to do this only in his or her appointment setting, while the elder may perform these functions anywhere.

Who is a licensed local pastor?

A local pastor has answered the call from God to serve the mission of Jesus Christ through the work of a local congregation in The United Methodist Church.

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