Shouldn't the AME Church do a backgrond check for those entering the Ministry : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Since the AME Church now only ordain those with an M. Div. degree as itinerant elders and those with a college/university degree as itinerant deacons, should we not go one step further? Shouldn't the AME Church do a backgrond check for those entering the ministers to check for homosexuals, lesbians, neurotics, psychotics, murderers, rapists, and those who have committed violent crimes? Many other denominations and local congregations are doing the very same thing; isn't it time that we do the same?

In my Annual Conference, we ordained a minister to the diaconate ministry and sent her to pastor a congregation only to discover that the lady was psychotic and otherwise mentally deranged. Shouldn't we, as a connection of Methodism, have protected the congregation better?

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001


You bet!

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001

Lindsey: You raise a fascinating question!! I share your concerns about the dangers of problematic behavior. When I was worshiping in a Baptist Church our Pastoral Search Committee required a criminal background check for all prospective candidates. Fortunately, we had a retired police detective in our congregation and he was able to supervise that particualr area. The problem I forsee however is the correct type of screening which doesn't make premature conclusions about psychological fitness. Who will administer such tests? Who pays for the test [church or pastoral candidate]? Will you include a candidate to pass a polygraph? Do you include random drug testing? If so, how frequent? As you can see the questions can be numerous but they must be answered if background screening is properly carried out. QED

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001

Then, let's just not stop with the clergy but all officers and leaders of the church, including the secretary/administrative assistant, stewards or deacons, Sunday School Superintendent, Youth Leaders, Trustees, etc. These persons often interact with the congregation as much as the Pastor in many instances. There are both clergy and laity with sordid pasts; let's deal with ALL or NONE!

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001

All potential AME Ministers are examined by the local church as to thier gifts and graces for the ministry. If they pass the examination by the local congregation, they are recommended to the Quaterly Conference, chaired by the Presiding Elder. The Quarterly Conference must pass and recommend to the District Conference Board of Examiners. If this Board agrees, they are recommended to the Annual Conference Board of Examiners who must make recommendations to the Annual Conference where a vote is taken on Admission to the Annual Conference and entered into a two year course of study leading to Ordination as Deacon and if continued another two years leading to Ordination as an Elder. At every level of this process, the candidate must prove that he/she has the requisite education in accordance with the Discipline as well as any additional requirements established by the Episcopal District and the Presiding Bishop. So the background check begins with the people who knnow the canditate best. That was the process for me except, because of need, I was sent to pastor two small churches as a Deacon.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001

Many times an inexpensive Credit Check will reveal potential problems. I agree with background checks for all officers suitable to the level of responsibility. These should be repeated periodically as a minister's responsibility increases.


Pasto Paris

-- Anonymous, June 23, 2001

Great suggestion! I think that this would deter potential child molesters, rapists, and other human predators from entering the ministry.

Is there counseling or some other form of assistance for preachers with mental problems?

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001

Rev.Paris, I think all of us know how a preacher gets to be a deacon or elder in the church. But to answer lindsey's question, some districts are requiring background checks. I know in the Eleventh where I am in ministry, they require a psychological evaluation as well as now a background check. It is for the safety of everyone. I am not sure which districts presently are using this method, but I know that the Eleventh is.

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001

Are we a little peevish? Does that indicate a psychological problem? Hmmm..

Blessings, Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001

As Pastor Paris intimated, the entrance into ordained ministry begins at the local church level where the potential candidate is very well known. The local church is the first screen in the process.

Another issue involved is my concern that we become the judges of the call of God. Check out the Apostle Paul's vitae, or Peter's resume.

Finally, as one respondent asked, "Do we go for all leadership?"

-- Anonymous, June 29, 2001

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