The Candidacy Process

Welcome to Candidacy—A process for confirming the call to ministry

Whether your goal is to be a licensed local pastor, or an ordained deacon, or ordained elder, the first step toward ministry in the United Methodist Church is a process called “candidacy.” One reason this step exists is to help the exploring candidate discern what shape God’s call is taking in their lives. It involves one’s inward call—the call of God on their lives as they sense it inwardly; and it involves an outward call—the call of God on a person’s life as outside observers recognize and affirm that call. Below is a step-by-step description of the candidacy process. One thing you will note is that it is very methodical and thorough and blends together the inward and outward discernment process surrounding a person’s call. The goal of the process described below is to go from being an exploring candidate to being what we call a “certified candidate.” After becoming a certified candidate, then one begins taking the steps toward either licensed ministry or ordained ministry as a deacon or elder. A requirement for becoming a certified candidate for ministry is one year of membership in the United Methodist Church or one year as a baptized member of a United Methodist campus ministry or other recognized United Methodist ministry. Another requirement is to have graduated from high school or received a certificate of equivalency.

Print out the Candidacy Checklist here and use it to check off the steps of your process.

Step 1Conversation with your pastor. Talk to your United Methodist pastor or ministry leader about your call.

Step 2: Write your Call Statement and fill out Biographical Form 102. Send both by email to the following: 1) your District Superintendent, 2) the Chair of your District Committee on Ordained Ministry (DCOM), and 3) the Candidacy Registrar, Jay Harris (jharris@sgaumc.com). Introduce yourself to each in your email. Click Contact List to find a list of District Superintendents and DCOM Chairs.   

Step 3: Contact your District Superintendent (DS). You will need to contact your DS to arrange a meeting where you will 1) discuss your call and 2) get enrolled as a candidate. When you meet with your DS, bring your Call Statement and Biographical Form 102 with you. After your conversation with your DS, if the DS believes you are ready to begin the candidacy process, the DS will enroll you into UMCares (see more below about the UMCares online application system).

Step 4: Complete Enrollment in UMCares. When the District Superintendent enrolls you in UMCares, you will need to complete the enrollment. You will receive an email from notifications@umcares.org (put this in your safe senders list or it may go into your junk mail folder). You will be given a link to set up your password and fill out the online candidacy application form through the on-line interactive web site at umcares.org. Please do so immediately because the notification will expire. Once your district superintendent and the candidacy registrar have signed your application electronically, you will receive another email notification with a link to your candidacy track to pay the $45 registration fee. Once the fee is received, you can download or receive by mail Answering the Call: Candidacy Guidebook. If you have any questions or problems with UMCares, please email the candidacy registrar, Jay Harris, (jharris@sgaumc.com) with your question. Once you have paid your fee and ordered your Candidacy Guidebook, the candidacy registrar will complete any additional steps related to UMCares. There is no need to go back to UMCares.

Step 5: Getting your background check run. Send the following items to the “Office of Ministerial Services, P.O. Box 18149, Macon, GA 31209.”

Step 6: Candidacy Orientation/Meeting with a Mentor: Periodically, we have Candidacy Orientations that you need to attend. Many of your questions about the process will be answered in the Orientation. Also, you will receive information about the various orders of ministry to which God calls people. If you are enrolled, you will receive a communication about this Orientation. Usually, it is after the Orientation that you will receive a mentor. In some cases, you may be paired with a mentor before the Orientation depending upon the dates of the Orientations offered. You may either receive a mentor to meet with one-on-one, or you may be put in a group with other candidates and led by one or more mentors. The Candidacy Guidebook is the resource that will guide you in your conversations with your mentor or mentoring group. You will need to have no fewer than four sessions.

Next Steps

  • Get your local church’s approval. The local church’s recommendation of your candidacy happens in two parts:

First, interview with your Pastor-Parish Relations Committee (PPRC). Arrange with your pastor a meeting of the PPRC to discuss your call and get their recommendation. For the meeting, prepare written answers to John Wesley’s questions: 1) Do you know God as a pardoning God? Have you the love of God abiding in you? Do you desire nothing but God? Are you holy in all manner of conversation? 2) Have you gifts, as well as evidence of God’s grace, for the work? Have you a clear, sound understanding; a right judgment in the things of God; a just conception of salvation by faith? Do you speak justly, readily, and clearly? 3) Have you fruit? Have you been truly convinced of sin and converted to God, and are believers edified by your service?

Second, get your Charge Conference’s approval. Ask your pastor to arrange with the DS a Charge Conference where the members will consider the PPRC’s recommendation. For your approval a three-fourths vote by written ballot is needed. Make sure that the pastor has a “Form 104: Declaration of Candidacy” ready for the Charge Conference and that the DS signs it.  Send to Dr. Harris’ email and to your DCOM Chair.

  • Schedule and complete the Psychological Assessment. The cost for the assessment is $600. Although this is to be done at the expense of the candidate, your sponsoring church often helps with the cost if they are aware of your need. Contact: Susan F. Davenport, Ph.D., Psychological Offices, 121 Carl Vinson Parkway, Warner Robins, GA 31088; Telephone: 478-922-2365. Bring church checks, district checks, certified checks, money orders, or credit cards (no personal checks).  (After your examination and interview with Dr. Davenport, please allow several weeks to receive your report. Please read it carefully. Often, there is a recommendation for a consultation with Rev. Deborah Wight-Knight, our conference pastoral counselor. If so, please call her office (478-929-1032) at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation. Her role is to work together with you to help you understand yourself more fully in relationship to your history, your emotional and psychological makeup, and your gifts and graces for ministry.)
  • If you have had a divorce, send BOTH the divorce petition(s) and decree(s) to Dr. Harris and your DCOM Chair.
  • Complete Form 103: Medical Form. Fill out Part 1 regarding your medical history, schedule a physical examination, and have your physician complete Part 2 of the form. Send to Dr. Harris and your DCOM Chair.
  • Send official college and/or seminary transcripts to Dr. Harris.
  • Prepare your written responses to the following: 1) your most formative experiences of the Christian life; 2) God’s call to ministry and the role of the church in your call; 3) your beliefs as a Christian; 4) your gifts for ministry; 5) your present understanding of your call to ministry as elder, deacon or licensed ministry; and 6) your support systems. Send to Dr. Harris and your DCOM Chair.

LAST STEP WHEN ALL THE ABOVE IS COMPLETED: Contact the Chair of your District Committee on Ordained Ministry (DCOM) to get on the agenda of their next meeting for their final approval for you to become a certified candidate for ministry so you can proceed to seminary or the next Licensing School.

Continuation of Candidacy
After you become a certified candidate, you will remain a certified candidate until you are either licensed as a local pastor or commissioned as a Provisional Elder or Provisional Deacon. You have a maximum of 12 years to be a certified candidate, although most candidates get to the next stage much earlier than that. If you become a licensed pastor, with the intention of becoming an ordained elder, you will no longer be referred to as a candidate. Instead, you will be referred to as a clergy member of the South Georgia Conference.

Whether you remain a certified candidate or become a licensed pastor, you must under go annual review by your District Committee on Ordained Ministry. If you are a continuing certified candidate, your candidacy must be renewed annually by both the Charge Conference of your local church and by your District Committee on Ordained Ministry. This includes a yearly interview with the District Committee, submitting transcripts detailing your educational progress you make, and submitting any additional paperwork your District Committee may require that demonstrates your personal and professional growth and the progress you are making toward your goal in ministry.

Licensed pastors are also subject to annual review and annual approval by the District Committee. In addition to checking the pastor’s personal and professional growth and education, the Committee will check on his or her effectiveness as the pastor of a church.