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Becoming a Deacon

Discernment

If you believe God is calling you to the ministry of the deacon, spend time in discernment, listening to God:

  • Talk to your pastor or campus minister and, if possible, a deacon. God uses others to help in your discernment. Ponder the questions they suggest.
  • Read “The Christian as Minister” 
  • Meet with your area’s district superintendent. (Your pastor can identify that person for you.) After your conversation, the superintendent may help you begin the candidacy process and assign you a candidacy mentor to help you continue discerning how God might be calling you to serve.
  • Meet with your church’s Staff-Pastor Parish Relations Committee and the District Committee on Ordained Ministry (DCOM) for approval to become a “certified candidate.”
  • Meet with your church’s Staff-Pastor Parish Relations Committee and the District Committee on Ordained Ministry (DCOM) for approval to become a “certified candidate.”

Educational Requirement

All deacons and elders are required to complete the Basic Graduate Theological Studies in the Christian Faith, a minimum of 27 semester hours. These may be completed as part of a theological degree or in addition to a master’s degree and/or professional certification in specialized ministry. 

Students must take at least one course in each of these Basic Graduate Theological Studies categories:

  • Evangelism
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Church history
  • Theology
  • Mission of the church in the world
  • Worship/liturgy
  • United Methodist doctrine
  • United Methodist polity
  • United Methodist history

While all deacons and elders are required to complete the Basic Graduate Theological Studies in the Christian Faith, they make take slightly different educational paths. These are the three available higher education routes that prospective deacons may use:

  • Deacon Education Route One:
    • Bachelor’s degree.
    • Master of divinity (or equivalent) or other theological master’s degree. The degree must be earned at a school approved by the University Senate. Studies must include the Basic Graduate Theological Studies courses listed above).
  • Deacon Education Route Two:
    • Bachelor’s degree.
    • Master’s degree in an appropriate area of ministry specialization.
    • Completion of Basic Graduate Theological Studies courses listed above (from approved school).
  • Deacon Education Route Three (option for people beginning candidacy at age 35 or older):

Please note that for missional purposes, exceptions to the undergraduate degree requirements may be made in consultation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). All prospective candidates are encouraged to explore our Loans and Scholarships page to find out how GBHEM may be able to help fund their education

Endorsement for Deacon

Ecclesiastical endorsement is available to deacons serving as chaplains or in ministries of pastoral care and counseling.

To be eligible for endorsement, a deacon must:

  • Be a full or provisional member of an annual conference that accepts endorsement from the United Methodist Endorsing Agency (UMEA)
  • Present evidence of special education, training and experience, and if applicable, professional certification necessary to perform their ministry.

Deacons are not eligible for endorsement to serve as military chaplains or in other settings which require permanent, worldwide sacramental authority. Endorsement in those positions is only available to elders.

For more information on endorsement, click here.

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