A licensed local pastor has answered the call from God to serve the mission of Jesus Christ through the work of the local congregation in The United Methodist Church.
The local pastor performs the duties of a pastor, including proclamation of the Word of God, leading in worship and liturgy, performing sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, the services of marriage (where state laws allows), burial, confirmation, and membership reception.
The licensed local pastor is not ordained in The United Methodist Church but is licensed for pastoral ministry to perform the duties of a pastor as described above.
- Complete the candidacy process and become a certified candidate for ministry.
- Be recommended by the district Committee on Ordained Ministry.
- Complete the studies for the local pastor at a license school.
- Complete the Orientation to Ministry offered by your annual conference.
- Be approved by the conference BOM and clergy session of the annual conference.
- Receive an appointment from the bishop along with the license for pastoral ministry.
Local pastors must have a high school diploma or certificate of equivalency before becoming a certified candidate. The local pastor must pursue theological education through an approved seminary or in the Course of Study.
An approved seminary is one listed on the University Senate list. The list includes United Methodist seminaries and non-United Methodist seminaries approved to train United Methodist clergy.
The Course of Study is a basic theological education program prescribed by the Book of Discipline (¶ 319.3) and offered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. It includes license school, the five-year basic Course of Study, and the advanced Course of Study.
Click on License Schools for locations, schedules, and contact information in each conference.
The Course of Study is offered at Regional Schools each summer on the campuses of eight United Methodist seminaries. Most courses are offered in a two-week module to allow full and part-time local pastors to attend. Many of the Regional Schools have extension centers for part-time local pastors only. The extension centers usually offer courses in a two or three-weekend format, which allows bi-vocational local pastors to participate without taking extensive time away from their work or families. To locate seminaries in your geographical area, class schedules, and contact information, see more information in this Licensing and Course of Study section.
Students who are unable to attend the Course of Study schools at United Methodist seminaries may, with permission of the Board of Ordained Ministry, take up to four of their courses through the correspondence course curriculum provided by the Division of Ordained Ministry.
Local pastors who complete the requirements of the Course of Study may continue their preparation for conference membership and ordination as an elder through an Advanced Course of Study program. The Discipline requires that local pastors who seek ordination:
- Be at least forty years of age;
- Complete a bachelor’s degree from a college/university recognized by the University Senate. In some instances, a minimum of 60 semester hours of bachelor of arts credit is acceptable.
- Complete the five-year Course of Study, of which no more than four courses may be taken by correspondence or online;
- Complete 32 semester hours of graduate theological study or its equivalent as determined by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. These courses shall include United Methodists history, doctrine, and polity.