When we last left our hero, he was tragically stuck at the first roadblock of his journey toward ordination! Paragraph 311 of The United Methodist Book of Discipline, section 1 reads:
Those seeking to begin candidacy for licensed or ordained ministry: a)shall have been a professing member in good standing of The United Methodist Church for at least two years immediately preceding the application for candidacy; including a year of service in some form of congregational leadership, either in the local church or one agreed to by the district committee on ordained ministry, provided that in the case of an affiliate member, there has been a consultation with and approval by the charge conference of the home church.
So, since I was baptized in January of 2000, I had to wait until January of 2002 before I could start, which seemed like an insanely long time. As I was thinking through this timeline, I realized that I didn't really wait two years and suddenly worried that I must have cheated. It turns out, my District Superintendent at the time clarified that I could do one part of the process without waiting. So I became an inquiring candidate. To do this, I had to write a letter to the district superintendent and request a lay guide. I was assigned a wonderful guide, Sue, and we worked together through a book called, Ministry Inquiry Process. It is know affectionately as "The Purple Book" by those who have been through it. I have to say in reflection that this was one of the most rewarding processes I have ever been through. I took it pretty seriously and spent a lot of time with the guidebook, a lot of time praying and a lot of time reading the books that it suggested.
In thinking back about this, I have to wonder how I would react to someone so new to the church expressing a call to ministry. I would hope that I would embrace their call because I do believe that God calls people in a lot of different ways. But I hope I could encourage that person to take the process at least as seriously as I did. Although I felt certain of my call early on, I did not allow myself to breeze through the process as something to "get done." The months during which I completed this first phase were some of the most spiritually intense months of my life. I remember a bunch of late nights drinking coffee at Mozart's on the lake in Austin reading scripture and praying and trying to discern what God was doing with me.
Preaching in Challenging Times
3 months ago