Academic Requirements for Ordination : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

In regard to the educational requirements for ordination at GenCon 2000, I am a little unclear as to what happened. In the New York Conference as a requirement for Itinerate Deacon you must have a BA degree and for Elder a Seminary Degree. There was also talk that eventually Locals would have to possess an associates and this would have possibly been passed at the recent conference. Is it still a requirement to have the BA for ID orders? I am to be ordained at the upcoming 2001 Annual Conference for Deacon and I am trying to get a clear understanding. I know each District and Conference has different requirements for different reasons & needs, but with is the Overall church mandate?

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2000


Min. Stembridge, You raise some valid points about future conditions and expectations for AME preachers in the 1st District. I share your anxiety however unlike more knowlegable and polished posters on this forum like J. Payne, H. Turner or L. Clark I can't offer an explanation for why the changes are being made. I'm sure they have the answer you are looking for. Personally, I find all the "creeping credentialism" annoying absent the one real degree BA [Born Again]. As far as I'm concerned this should be the only sine qua non to preach the Gospel. Funny, I don't recall Jesus' midnight lecture to Nicodemus about Heavenly Prerequisites stressing academic credentials. But then again, I am simply a simple man desiring to do God's Will by promulgating the Gospel, keeping Satan at bay and encouraging the saints of God. Paraphrasing Will Rogers folk wisdom, I am not a member of the clergy nor am I part of organized religion, I'm simply an AME laymember.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2000

Per the Doctrine and Discipline of the A.M.E. Church (1996), page 96, bullet D reads as thus: "All candidates for the itinerant ministry should be college graduates." Underline SHOULD. Bullet E reads as follows: "A candidate for ordination as itinerant elder should be a graduate of an approved seminary." Again underline SHOULD. Should is not a requirement in my book.

While I do feel that it is best that we obtain as much education as possible not only for the ministry but for the African American race in general, I do not feel that God requires it for the ministry. Nor does the Discipline require it based on its wording.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000

Brother Dickens; I share you hope that all of our ministers, pastors, itinerant elders - bishops be BA born again. However, Paul, a man who, removed from his calling, was one of the most learned men in the Bible. Surely, he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, the Einstein of Judaism, to learn the genetics of his faith. Yes, Jesus calls whomever He wants, but what's wrong with a man or woman, in his zeal to be the best that he can offer Christ's Church, be both, spiritually and theologically prepared to lead God's people? I certainly wouldn't go to a sidewalk doctor, or use a sidewalk attorney - a sidewalk teacher. Brother, perhaps that's one of the reasons that our denomination is shrinking - we are ordaining anyone that said that they are called to preach. God bless.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000

Rev. Keith, I ditto your feeling. Let's take the should out of our discipline and replace it with must. Thank God, Jesus never said "I should bless you or I should love you - no - He DID and He Does. Arlene Ginn

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000

Sister Ginn, I appreciate your concerned comments about educational requirements for the AME clergy. My views on this topic are simply that, my views. Quite the contrary, I am not oppossed to education. I have been a university professor at four colleges over the past 15 years so my committment to advanced and lifelong learning is firm and in tact. What I am at odds with is the creeping credentialism in God's House whereby certain smug elitists are using credentials as "screeing" tools to preach. As I previously said, I'm annoyed with the practice of credentials absent being Born Again. This [BA] is the only sine qua non that Jesus requires. Economic theory [my technical specialization] demonstrates that occupational licensure of the type you support for the clergy leads to inefficinet labor market outcomes. In a private email I can further explain this finding if you desire. While Saul's academic pedigree was indeed quite impressive his Damascus Road epiphanny made no mention of him being magna cum laude or the Pharisee's Phi Beta Kappa. QED

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000

We put so much into our requirments for ordination. Ok I got most if not all of these degress. Now I get sent out to pastor 100 miles away from home. No parsonage and no salary. So, If you want me to have all of this we need to refocuse how we are gonna treat our pastors. yea i know what the book says but in Texas many of the churhces do not take care of the pastors. And, then when one advises the presiding elder of this who is likely to have no degrees they want to black ball you from pastoring. Is that not a favor?

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

I have just recently entered into the ministry in the 7th Episcopal District and i have been told about the educational requirements that will be forth coming from the General Conference 2000. I truly feel that when I wanted to further my secular knowledge for my position at work it require more classroom training. Why can't I expect the same in service for the Lord? The congregation are getting smater and preachers and pastors must be equipped with more theological training to deal with their members, or be laughed out of the church.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2000

I totally support training for ministry. I have been pastoring for 10 years, I have gained experience in the practical side but the theologically perspectives were not there. I am in seminary full time and pastoring, and I am enjoying it. Let's prepare for excellence in the AME Church the rewards will pay off after while.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2000

The question regarding academic requirments for ordination is certainly pertinent and timely. If researched, you would probably find that each Annual Conference within an Episcopal District applies the directions of the 1996 Discipline in ways peculiar to their own situation or Bishopric predilections. I agree with the person who mentioned wording in the Discipline that says "should" when in reality it ought to say MUST. No less than an academic BA and a MDIV should qualify for Ordination from a recognized, reputable seminary. I agree with those who also maintain that a "spiritual" BA be the prerequisite to begin the whole process toward Pastoral ministry. The first Section on the Ministry in the Discipline I believe, alludes to that very thing. It begins "As to religious experience, a. Do they know God as a pardoning God?" To me that means essentially "have you had a "born again" experience? I don't know specifically what this past General Conference mandated regarding ordination. As Chairman of the Ohio Conference Board of Examiners I certainly want to find out.

Peace & Love Rev. Harold L. Turner, Pastor ZION AME CHURCH, Delaware, Ohio

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I love God more than anything in the world, and I want to be the best for God. I went to school for nine years straight, (including summers), full time as I was raising my daughter by my self. I went back to school when I was thirty, there were times my daughter had to come with me if I did not have money for the baby sitter. I graduated from the College of New Rochelle (NY) with a B.A in Social Work with Families, I then went on to Princeton Seminary where I received my M.Div, and now I am working on a PH.D. I do this so that I can be the best pastor that I can. I have a pastor's heart. I want to educate, revitalize, and awaken a thirst for God. But in order to do that I need to couple my burning desire to serve, with the ability to use the right tools to bring people to the water. Those "tools" are education and empowering our laity. I am proud of my academic achievements, but God provided them so that I can serve him! 80% of the graduates of Princeton Seminary go on to pastor in small rural churches. The seminary always had as it's main focus equiping pastors with knowledge to evangelize. I thank God for the three years in seminary where I had the opportunity to intern at churches, and have supervision. I live in a state where White Supremists groups use the Bible to further their cause. I have the training where I can go into communities, and explain the bible. Answer questions, and also allow the movement of the Holy spirit to resound in me. I hope that academic requirements will not be seen as a punishment or barrier, but an opportunity for spiritual growth. And by the way I was not one of those people who just loved school, Princeton was the hardest thing I have ever done. The president of the seminary whom I love dearly asked me at graduation. What was seminary like for me. I said "It was like having a caesarian section without an anesthtic!" If you are thinking about school, go for it. There are many external programs that can be done over the internet.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

I strongly endorse education. At present I have my degree in Marketing and I am pursuing my next degree. I feel that we as clergy should have all of the necessary educational training because we must meet the needs of the everchanging congregations we minister to. My only strong comment is that being in the New York Conference we have access to a fine group of Pastors who teach at our Conference Ministers Institute as well as a few at various other schools. Since we have this access two things should occur. Either negotiate with the various institutions of higher learning such as Drew Theological, New Brunswick Theological, and New York Theological to impart credits for either prior learning or let us use this as part of the credits towards the various degrees. This could also be said in regard to the various AME schools across the country. Another alternative is to allow candidates to receive their ordination for Deacon, but require them to continue pursuing their education. One of the things that i feel very strong about is that you MUST have a M. Div to Pastor. This is very good because you want to have the best qualified to hold these various offices. A Deacon will assist the Elder and this should also be looked at for credits in Seminary because you must do an internship during your time and this provides very good training. I feel that the AME church has the greatest resource of people that can instruct the next generation of Clergy tomeet the needs of the people and fulfill the work of the Lord.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

Shalom , aloha, hiya: I've an M.Div. but have not yet a Ph.D.; but "have" a D. Aud.[that's partly a joke, from a book: ...Zen.....[work?]....Too many [other] Episcopalians and Anglican[s?], & ex-Anglicans; {& many other folk I'm not yet mentioning here] have abused me:so, wisha there were a compassion exam in seminary training. Perhaps I've met folk from most of the 7 world's religions. I'm ashkenazyJewess; but have been illegally kept awafy from most of my blood relatives. [Write to the French prime minister to protect us partFrench folk,now]. I'm a bookworm, voracious multi-lingual reader.N.B. the Religious Soc. of Friends has had another idea of "ministers." N.B., the "roadside reverend" on "To Tell the Truth" said that he was ordained by God, & did not attend a seminary.[That's a paraphrase]. He & me have been doing the work which , it seems, NO ONE else in my U.S.A. wants to do. I'm internationally [hidden?] homeless, unsalaried, malnutritioned, need kind dental care right now; & am not [rainy today] at the Diocese of N.Y. convention in/at our Cathedral...Divine,[10025]; where some people have been abusive & at least "damn mean" to me/moi. There seems to be a "glass ceiling" towards clergywommin even if NOT Feminist. Does thee want to speak in tongues? Has thee read: The Kiss from the Cross; Peace Pilgrim; Alien Nation; Dorothy Day; Anthony Bloom; koinonia; "The Other Side"; "Sojourners"; "Drop everything & laugh"; "I'd rather be laughing."????P.S. I've another name in religion; & pen/stage names.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2001

Rev., Wendy:

Would you kindly translate your last post and explain its relation to the topic concerning academic requirements for ordination of clergy? I'm not ashemd to admit that I am having difficulty following the direction of your comment. QED

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2001

See your Annual Conference Board of Examineers. You should be working with them intimately as you prepare for the ministry.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2001

I noticed the typo of the person who asked me a query re my posting. Having just been verbally assaulted & threatened, in front of some parishioners, [of many times verbally assaulted by : ECUSA folks, an Anglican, an ex-Anglican]; by an [homosexual?] ECUSA Deacon : how @ courses in - compassion for the English speaking underclass; "Miss Manners" course for ECUSA seminarians; [& more]??? Has anyone talked with the : Roadside Reverend who was on "To tell the Truth",? I'm the woman street priest [& mo']: see "Graffitti" for the guy street priest in [illegal aliened, Spanish/Chinese/Polish/Albanian/Korean inflicted NYC [when they should be speaking {fluentlty} our U.S.A.'s English language. Mercy buckets! Do NOT bomb Iraq! Happy Rosh Hashonah to my Jewish folks.

-- Anonymous, September 04, 2002

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