Representatives from United Methodist educational institutions and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) met this fall and are recommending that certification in specialized ministry be made more accessible to and affordable for United Methodist lay leaders. Representatives discussed best practices, trends and deacon and lay education and certification requirements within The United Methodist Church (UMC). Student feedback and current or desired educational requirements informed the conversation.

The goal of the discussions is to develop plans to ensure lay people who have been called to a specialized ministry, can affordably access a basic education through the certification program in their area of expertise. Currently, there are two certification tracks for clergy and lay people (professional and para-professional), however, certification isn’t required for all those pursuing ordained ministry. As a result of the meeting, representatives recommend one level of certification be available to all, allowing students on different educational routes to complete it. This shift will allow ordination students to earn certification education through courses they are taking for credit.

As well, students not seeking ordination can take high-quality courses without credit at more affordable rates. Courses would be offered from United Methodist seminaries and other approved schools. Learn more here.