Remit #6 – One Order of Ministry
At present there is one order of ministry that is made up of ordained ministers ordained to word, sacrament, and pastoral care; and diaconal ministers commissioned to education, service, and pastoral care. There is also a category of ministry made up of those who are recognized as designated lay ministers following successful completion of a specific program of study.
Question to be voted on:
Does the presbytery/pastoral charge agree that there should be one new order of ministry encompassing the present categories of recognized designated lay ministers, diaconal ministers, and ordained ministers, with ordination to the ministry of word, sacrament, education, service, and pastoral care as the single rite of entry, and with provision for the continued identity of the diakonia within the ordained ministry?
Key issues in One Order Remit Proposal
For most people in the pews, there is little difference between different streams of ministry, provided the leadership they receive is capable, faithful, and effective.
For the majority of denominations, Protestant and Catholic, the most common degree required for ordination or pastoral leadership is the Master of Divinity (M.Div.). Ministry leadership needs to value both training and education, and the M.Div. has been accepted as ensuring that a candidate for ordained ministry possesses both. The Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre program, based on a five-year formation period for ministry leadership in First Nations communities, has also been accepted as appropriate preparation. The designated lay ministry (DLM) training program emphasizes life experience and allows for different learning styles. The One Order proposal calls for the DLM program to be expanded into a Diploma in Pastoral Theology, similar in time and learning expectations to the current Centre for Christian Studies (Diaconal Ministry training and education) and SandySaulteaux Spiritual Centre models. All education and training will be based on developing competencies for ministry regardless of the pathway to achieving those competencies.
Some fear that the One Order proposal would lead to a significant loss of identity for all three streams of ministry. While there could be some loss of identity for all three streams of ministry if the One Order is accepted, it could be argued that this streamlining would eliminate artificial boundaries in the church among word, sacrament, pastoral care, education, and service as all three train for and practice each of these ministry functions. The diaconal community in the United Church will be involved in determining how the continued identity of the diakonia will be expressed within the ordained ministry.
The One Order proposal addresses issues of fairness in employment policy for designated lay ministers (DLMs). In principle, DLMs currently have status only while under appointment. In practice this is unworkable, and often ignored, raising issues of continued status between appointments, insurance, pension entitlements, and job security. The One Order proposal will create a single minimum pay scale for ministry personnel.
For more information, frequently asked questions, discussion and videos on Remit # 6, visit
https://www.gc42.ca/remits and specifically Study Guide Remit # 6.
The Meaning of the One Order proposal
If the remit is approved, there will be one form of ordered ministry in the United Church known as the ordained ministry.
Within this one ministry, provision will be made for the continued identity of the diakonia. The explicit mechanism of diaconal identity will be developed with the Diakonia of the United Church (DUCC) network. Since diaconal identity currently involves a specific program of study (Centre for Christian Studies) and commitment to the values of the global diaconal movement, it is assumed that these two foundations will continue. Ministers who so choose and qualify will, following ordination, be welcomed to the community of the diakonia and may identify themselves as members of the diakonia.
Designated lay ministry (DLM), as it is now known, will end and be incorporated into the ordained ministry of the church. This will involve creating a new diploma study program based on the learning styles of the current designated lay ministry program, and expanded and deepened to achieve a basic equivalency in competencies and preparation for ministry leadership. This new program will be similar to current programs at the Centre for Christian Studies and the Sandy- Saulteaux Spiritual Centre (training specifically for First Nations ministry). While the M.Div. program in its many forms across the church will remain the primary educational path to ordination, the new Diploma in Pastoral Theology program will provide an additional path.
Congregational designated ministry will continue as the paid accountable expression of lay ministry in the church.
Why are we considering this change?
While the United Church has been studying the nature of ministry almost continuously throughout its history, the last decade of work has identified significant concerns and challenges to the current practices.
Several task groups have identified the difficulty in distinguishing among the various streams of ministry and in particular in explaining the functional difference between designated lay ministry and ordained and diaconal ministry. Moreover, various surveys have pointed to congregations not being concerned about the differences between the various streams of ministry, but rather deeply concerned about effective and faithful ministry leadership.
Historically, the ordained ministry has been defined primarily by sacramental authority. Though not alone in this journey, the United Church has moved far beyond restricting sacramental authority solely to the ordained ministry. If sacramental authority is exercised by all three streams, and indeed beyond, then what are the distinctions among diaconal, ordained, and designated lay ministry?
The one issue that does come to the foreground in these distinctions is the question of education. It is the one factor that has served to differentiate streams of ministry. It is also an area in which there appears to be wide consensus across the church. The United Church has been identified and marked by an educated and informed clergy.
The commitment to an educated clergy has provided significant impetus for the proposal for One Order of ministry.