General Conference 2004 approved the formation of the Certified Lay Ministry position -- a new lay position for pastoral leadership in the church. This position may involve all pastoral functions except for those duties that require ordination (e.g. baptism and communion).
The Certified Lay Minister shall preach the Word, provide a care ministry to the congregation, assist in program leadership and be a witness in the community for the growth, missional and connectional thrust of The United Methodist Church.
Whereas some are called to a certain ministry and then find a church, the Certified Lay Ministry program may be best for situations where a church or ministry has a need and someone in that membership is called to help out in a larger way.
The Certified Lay Minister is assigned by the District Superintendent to provide lay pastoral leadership in a ministry or local church.
The Book of Discipline, 2016, further sets forth a new requirement in Paragraph 205.4 regarding those serving in a pastoral charge as Supply.
"When a pastoral charge is not able to be served by an ordained or licensed minister, the bishop, upon recommendation of the cabinet, may assign a qualified and trained layperson, lay minister or lay missioner to do the work of ministry in that charge. The layperson is accountable to the district superintendent or another ordained or licensed minister appointed to oversee the charge, who will make provision for sacramental ministry. Upon the bishop's assignment, the layperson will be assigned an additional clergyperson as a guide to provide support in the assignment. If the assignment is to continue longer than one year, within that year the layperson will begin the process of becoming either a certified lay minister or a certified candidate, thus coming under the care of the District Committee on Ministry. The layperson assigned is also accountable to the policies and procedures of the annual conference where assigned."
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