Remit #6 - One Order of Ministry

Remit 6, WUC style

Some background

  1. The United Church of Canada has a “constitution” called the Basis of Union.
  2. It is not written in stone. It can be changed, and has been, many times over our life since 1925
  3. The way to change it is through a process called a remit. A remit is a vote, by all pastoral charges (congregations) in the country.
  4. The ones to vote are the governing bodies of the congregations. In our case, the council.
  5. The deadline for this remit is the end of Feb, and our council has chosen to open the discussion up to anyone who wants to offer an opinion or some feedback.
  6. We met for that purpose after church last week.

Some background on the content of Remit 6

  1. The UCC is part of the reformed tradition of Christianity
  2. Some of the basic beliefs of the reformed tradition are:
    1. The priesthood of all believers. i.e. we are all ministers; that is, we serve God in our own jobs whatever they are.
    2. Within the gathered community, there are some who are set aside for a particular form of ministry; that is to care for the body of the church
    3. And the reformation held up the importance of an educated clergy.
  3. Since its beginning, the UCC has had two forms of ordered ministry. The first is ordained ministry. People who are ordained follow a course of study approved by the church, including academics and practice, and then are ordained to a ministry of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care.
  4. The second is diaconal ministry. People who are commissioned as diaconal ministers also follow a course of study approved by the church, including academics and practice. They have a focus on the ministry of education, community development and social justice.
  5. More recently, when ordered ministers are not available, faithful lay people have stepped up to lead congregations. They have been provided with some education to do so. Currently they are called Designated Lay Ministers (DLMs)

THE REMIT IS PROPOSING THAT ALL THREE FORMS OF MINISTRY BE CALLED “ORDAINED”. If passed, this remit would involve developing a more robust course of training for DLMs.

Here is the actual question, to which the council must say either yes or no

At present there is one order of ministry that is made up of ordained ministers, ordained to word, sacrament and pastoral care, and diaconal ministers, commissioned to education, service and pastoral care. There is also a category of ministry made up of those who are recognized as lay ministers, following successful completion of a specific program of study.

Does the pastoral charge agree that there should be one new order of ministry encompassing the present categories of recognized designated lay ministers, diaconal ministers, and ordained minsters, with ordination to the ministry of word, sacrament, education, service, and pastoral care as the single rite of entry, and with provision for the continued identity of the diakonia within the ordained ministry?

There was good discussion by those who gathered Sunday after church. The mood of the group seemed to tilt toward voting “no” to the remit. Concerns were raised about the level of education required by pastoral  ministers, and questions that this level might be compromised. There was some discussion about the spiritual and personal gifts necessary for pastoral ministry, and how differing ways of education can strengthen or develop those gifts. 

Note: This is a brief summary of what we understand is being asked with Remit #6.  For a more comprehensive discussion and background information, please visit the United Church of Canada webpage on Remits, or click on these two documents:

1. Remit #6 – Comprehensive Study Guide (19 pages)
2. Remit #6 – Study Guide (5 pages)