The process by which authorized ministers and congregations come together for shared ministry in the name of Jesus Christ and on behalf of the United Church of Christ is entitled "Search and Call." Search and Call takes considerable time and thoughtfulness, with prayerful attention to both logistical detail and the movement of God's Spirit. Authorized ministers and local congregations should work closely with Conference staff while engaged in Search and Call.
Resources for congregations searching for new leadership:
Has your pastor moved on? Fear not. We're here to help. A Pilgrimage through Transitions and New Beginnings is a great place to start and will help guide you through the process of finding an acting or interim pastor before forming a search committee to locate a new leader. You'll also want to start working with Conference staff to complete your Local Church Profile (available as PDF or Word document) to share with the candidates you are considering calling as your pastor.
Resources for authorized ministers seeking a call:
The UCC Ministerial Profile is an authorized minister's denominational credential, presenting an individual's verified standing, criminal background check, disciplinary records, and employment history. The UCC Ministerial Profile is also the document by which an authorized minister reaches local church search committees. While an authorized minister directs his/her profile's circulation, the UCC Ministerial Profile belongs to the United Church of Christ and is administered by Conference offices. Any authorized minister in good standing may request that a Conference circulate his/her profile to any vacancy.
Ministers who have been ordained, licensed or commissioned in the United Church of Christ, members in discernment, as well as ministers from other denominations who have been granted Privilege of Call may request credentials to create a profile on the UCC Ministerial Profiles Portal here.
Authorized ministers interested in serving as interim or stated supply pastors at Florida churches should complete the interim profile template (available as PDF or Word document) and send it to the Conference office.
Boundary Training is the way we educate authorized ministers about how to build and maintain healthy relationships within their ministries and beyond, relationships that are free of exploitation or abuse, respectful of all parties and contributing to the building up of the Body of Christ. We have learned together that most “boundary violations,” whether sexual, financial or power abuse, are the accumulation of multiple smaller steps rather than a single major misstep. Helping our authorized ministers recognize when they are nearing a boundary is a major intervention to keep churches and ministries healthy. All authorized ministers with ministerial standing in the Florida Conference are required to participate in three units of boundary education every three years.
Commissioning - The Apostle Paul in several of his letters reminds us of the diversity of the Body of Christ. Commissioned ministry is a form of ministry in the United Church of Christ recognizing lay persons who have been called by God to perform a specific church-related ministry. It is a ministry requiring a special body of knowledge and skills, such as Christian education, church administration, church music, parish work, missionary work, and conference and denominational staff work. In the United Church of Christ, commissioned ministry is carried out on behalf of a local church, association, conference or other church-related agency. Authorization for commissioned ministry is granted by the Conference.
Four-Way Covenant - When an ordained minister in good standing in the United Church of Christ is called to “non-parish” ministry, a covenantal relationship is established among the ordained minister, the calling body, the United Church of Christ as represented by an association or conference, and the Local Church where the Ordained Minister is a member. This is known as a "Four-Way Covenant" and it is motivated by the conviction that ordained ministers in non-parish settings are active and participating members of a local church and that all partners in this relationship share mutual responsibility, accountability and support.
Leave of Absence - An ordained minister in good standing may withdraw from active service in the ordained ministry prior to retirement and apply to the Committee on Church & Ministry for a leave of absence. Leave of absence is usually requested when an individual has withdrawn from or is no longer performing the functions of ordained ministry, but is actively seeking an ordained ministry position; has withdrawn from or is no longer performing the functions of ordained ministry and is in a process of evaluating his or her future as an ordained minister; has withdrawn from or is no longer performing the functions of ordained ministry because of family considerations, such as the rearing of a child, because of prolonged illness, in order to engage in an extended period of study, and so on. In any event, the expectation is that the person will perform the functions of ordained ministry in the near future and certainly within five years. Leave of absence is granted for one year at a time and is not granted for more than five years in succession for an ordained minister, except in special cases.
Licensure - There may be times and situations that arise in the life of a local church when ordained ministers are not available to provide pastoral care and leadership for that congregation. Licensed ministry is a form of ministry in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ for which ecclesiastical authorization is required. Licensed ministers perform specified duties in or on behalf of a designated local church. A licensed minister may be authorized to administer the rites and sacraments when such authorization is requested by the aforementioned designated local church. Licensure may be renewed and is not transferable.
Members in Discernment - The Still Speaking God calls each generation to become both followers of Jesus the Liberator and leaders for the building of God’s realm. How we answer God’s call and develop into roles of leadership is the work of discernment. Members in Discernment are individuals supported by a local congregation in the United Church of Christ who desire to explore and discern authorized ministry in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ. “The United Church of Christ recognizes that God calls the whole Church and every member to participate in and extend the ministry of Jesus Christ by witnessing to the Gospel in church and society. The United Church of Christ seeks to undergird the ministry of its members by nurturing faith, calling forth gifts, and equipping members for Christian service.” (UCC Constitution, Paragraph 20, emphasis added)
Ordination - The God of Abraham and Sarah is a God of the covenant. In the United Church of Christ we recognize that ordination is the result of a faithful process that honors our covenants with God and with the body of Christ. Ordination is the rite by which people whom God and the church have called to ordained ministry are set apart by prayer and the laying on of hands. It is a recognition of a particular calling from God and its acceptance by an individual. Ordination gives initial authorization to perform duties and exercise the prerogatives of ordained ministry. In the United Church of Christ in Florida, ordination is carried out by the Conference in cooperation with a local church.
Privilege of Call - The United Church of Christ recognizes that the call to ministry changes over time. Privilege of Call is for individuals who are authorized for ministry in other denominations who wish to leave their present denomination and become an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. The process, found in Manual on Ministry (Section 4, pages 2-17), carefully indicates the expectations and requirements of the candidate, along with the steps needed to be taken by the minister and the Committee on Church and Ministry.
God is still speaking