xWhat is an ECCLESIASTICAL COUNCIL?

When a ministerial candidate who we call a Member in Discernment has graduated from seminary and has completed all the additional requirements to move toward ordination, he or she is examined by the local Church and Ministry Committee. After successfully completing that ordination examination, the next step in the approval process is an ecclesiastical council. The ecclesiastical council is an official meeting held before or following the point at which the candidate has received a call to an ordained ministry position recognized by the Association. As the Association is the ordaining body, the candidate must be examined by voting delegates from the churches in the Association. An official meeting is called where lay and clergy members of our churches hear a brief presentation from the candidate’s ordination paper, have the opportunity to ask questions, and are given the responsibility to vote to approve ordination, pending a call to ministry.

The ordination paper consists of three parts: the candidate’s theological perspective; knowledge and understanding of UCC history, polity, and practice; and personal faith journey. Ideally, the candidate’s ordination paper is distributed to the delegates in time for their reading before the ecclesiastical council. The purpose of the ecclesiastical council is to authorize the ordination of the candidate.

According to our Association bylaws, each church, based on membership size, is given voting delegate responsibilities. Vista Grande Community UCC is allotted 3 delegates, although more members may be present. It is our responsibility as a covenantal church to support these official meetings with voting representation.

If you’d like to read more about the ordaining process, check out Section Three of the Manual on Ministry

We encourage you to read Crystal Karr’s Broken and Beloved: An Ordination Paper