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Steps to Become a Licensed Local Pastor

What is a LLP?

A Licensed Local Pastor is a clergyperson who has completed licensing school and has been appointed by the Bishop in a local ministry setting. Local Pastors are called to Word, Service, Sacrament and Order, like Ordained Elders (¶316). However, the authority of a Licensed Local Pastor is limited to their appointment setting. Some basic requirements for starting this process are to have a high school diploma or GED and be a United Methodist member for at least one year and to be baptized.

Steps to become a Local Pastor:

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How to become a LLP?

Inquiring candidate

When discerning your call, it is important to spend intentional time in prayer and meditation. The first step is to speak to your Pastor or another clergy person. We recommend you read “Christian as a Minister” together. Many Annual Conferences will even request you attend an Orientation to Ministry retreat to discern your call.

After reading this book and attending the retreat, you will need to write a letter expressing your call to ministry, commonly known as a “statement of call” and you must email it to your District Superintendent and to your church’s Staff/Parish Relations Committee, (often times referred to as SPRC) separately as an admission request. Once your church’s SPRC has received your statement, they will meet with you, discuss your call and go over Wesley’s historic questions (¶310,1,d). After affirming your gifts and graces, SPRC will present you as a candidate to ministry at a Charge Conference with your District Superintendent. 

Exploratory Candidate

Once you receive the charge conference’s approval, the District Superintendent (DS) will admit you into the candidacy process, and the District Committee on Ordained Ministry (commonly known as dCOM) will assign you a mentor. (¶310,1,c).

The office of the DS will send you a link to the candidacy portal via email. This platform will guide you in your process and will be used to review your biography, background check, financial, physical and psychological health, among others. (¶310.2.b)

After completing the requirements listed in the candidacy portal, you will need to meet with the District Committee on Ordained Ministry for an interview to become a Certified Candidate (¶310.2.a).

Certified Candidate

Institutions that offer the Course of Study in Spanish: 

Perkins School of Theology

     Satelite in Denver, CO

— Garrett-Evangelical School of Theology

Escuela Curso de Estudios online by GBHEM 

After receiving approval from DCOM, you will be able to attend Licensing School, (¶311, ¶315) which provides a basic theological foundation to start serving at a local congregation with the intention to continue your education.

Each annual conference offers Licensing School in English. In addition, The General Board of Higher Education an Ministry, offers Licensing school in Spanish and Portuguese at a national level through the language regional schools such as Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Perkins School of Theology. (This 80 hour curriculum is usually completed within a two-week period).

Licensed Local Pastor

After satisfactorily completing Licensing School, you are eligible to receive a ministry appointment from your bishop to perform all duties as a pastor (with recommendations from your DS and the DCOM) (¶316). Your license for local pastoral ministry is valid as long as your appointment continues (¶316, 3). Your ministry setting is the most significant space where you can lead a congregation, form disciples and transform lives (¶201).

Continuation of a license

In order to further develop our leadership, Licensed Local Pastors are required to continue their theological education by attending the Basic Course of Study or seminary and must meet with DCOM each year to renew their license. In addition, they are required to grow their theological formation by attending the Advanced Course of Study, Continued Education or other programs certified by The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. (¶319)

Although many clergy persons remain local pastors and cultivate fruitful ministries until retirement, there are possibilities for becoming an Associate Member or a Provisional Member, and pursuing Ordination as an Elder or Deacon.

The steps outlined in this video are the basic standards established by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry* and can be found in paragraphs 310 - 319 of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. However, each annual conference has the authority to require additional steps to contextualize your preparation and formation. So be sure to check in with your Pastor, DS or mentor to ensure you are meeting your conference’s requirements.  

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*The General Board of higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is the accrediting agency of The United Methodist Church and certifies individuals for clergy ministry in coordination with annual conferences.

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About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. If you have questions, you may contact your district superintendent or submit a question. Follow GBHEM on Twitter and Facebook.