When we have asked delegates what they appreciate about Conference, we often hear “we’re glad to have help finding a pastor when we need one, and that the Conference holds their credentials.”
In Mennonite Church USA it is the area conference that has this responsibility. An IMMC conference minister gathers appropriate applicants for a particular congregation and a “search guide” walks with search committees as they review and interview the applicants. When a congregation has named the person they want to hire, the Ministry Credentialing Team (MCT) and conference minister interviews and credentials the person for ministry. The resolution passed last May by MCUSA delegates to rescind the Membership Guidelines emphasizes the ongoing responsibility of each conference to have their own credentialing criteria.
So, in the upcoming meeting of the Missional Leadership Team (MLT) – a retreat at Amigo Centre February 3-4 — we will review how we currently assess pastors for ministry. There are six areas where we expect knowledge and practical skills: Biblical story, Anabaptist story and theology, Christian faith and discipleship, self-awareness and emotional health, missional engagement, and leadership, with intercultural skills in each area.
We are joyfully grateful for the ongoing work of our pastors, and as an MLT also take seriously our responsibility to provide oversight to the process of hiring and credentialing them. We will ask: are we satisfied with the current criteria? Is there anything to be changed or added? Does the rescinding of the Membership Guidelines encourage us to make any changes?
Thank you for praying with us for the wisdom and love of God’s Spirit to bless these conversations and the ongoing ministry of our conference!
~ Brenda Meyer, Conference Moderator