“Ordination and Ministerial Credentialing in The Wesleyan Church” was the title of a doctrinal symposium sponsored by the Education and Clergy Development (ECD) Division at Wesleyan World Headquarters on May 30-31, 2017.

District superintendents, district board of ministerial development leaders, and ministry professors listened to prepared papers and interacted on whether current credentialing practices are working to the best advantage in alignment with renewed ministry education and formation outcomes, as well as the discipleship and multiplication mission. In some parts of the world, for instance, the JESUS film has resulted in so many conversions church leaders are hard-pressed to find sufficient leaders for the new churches that are being formed. The need spotlights The Wesleyan Church’s responsibility to identify, prepare, and credential effective ministry leaders.

The symposium began with ECD Executive Director Russ Gunsalus welcoming attendees and setting the stage for the papers that followed. Dr. Bob Black, professor of religion at Southern Wesleyan University and an acknowledged historian in The Wesleyan Church, spoke on “Ordination in the Wesleyan Tradition: Letting the Past Speak to the Present about the Future.”

Dr. Bill Peed, global leadership catalyst director with Global Partners, and Rev. Ben Ward, Asia area director with Global Partners, presented “A Global Perspective to North American Ordination and Credentialing.” Ward participated from Singapore by way of ZOOM.

Dr. David Higle, ECD’s director of clergy development, presented a summary of Dr. Joseph Dongell’s paper “In Search of Pastoral Identity.” Dongell, who could not be present, is professor of biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Dr. John Drury, associate professor of theology and Christian ministry at Wesley Seminary, presented “Toward a Wesleyan Theology of Ordination.” The symposium included several question/answer sessions as well as dialogue at the various tables.

“A key area of responsibility in ECD’s role of advancing Wesleyan higher education and the care and development of Wesleyan ministers is the academic certification of ministers in training,” Gunsalus said. “Our collaboration with district superintendents, DBMDs, and ministry professors is driving a thorough, theologically, and historically grounded review of our ministry education and formation process that leads those called to pastoral ministry to ordination.

“The culmination of this partnership will be in September 2018, when our new competency-based process will be fully implanted,” Gunsalus added. “God’s guidance, excellent papers, and expert dialogue in this symposium provided a rich and significant step forward in this initiative to renew our ordination process.”