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Ministries : Ordinations and Installations

Ordination in the Congregational Fellowship is a process initiated and carried out by the local church. In our tradition, the church is the only body that can ordain though it is usually done after an examination by and in the presence of a vicinage council composed of pastors and lay delegates from the Association or neighboring Congregational Churches.

The local church begins the process with a vote to call a vicinage council and, if the council concurs, to ordain the candidate. This action is then communicated to the churches and individuals to be invited by sending a "letter missive." The letter reports the action taken by the church and specifies the date and time the council will be convened.

At the specified time, the council is called to order by the moderator of the church. A moderator and a clerk are elected and the church is asked to report its formal actions. The candidate then presents his or her academic credentials, read a statement of his/her Christian Experience (Faith Journey) and a fairly detailed statement of faith (the ordination paper). The council then questions the candidate to ascertain how well he/she understands and can support positions taken (this is not a test of orthodoxy). When the council is satisfied, it then entertains a motion to support the church in the ordination. The church then or at a later date conducts a service of ordination in the presence of the members of the council.

In all of this, however, the council is only advisory. The church is the sole ordaining body.

The full process is explained in the book entitled, From Call to Settlement.

Local Ordination
Local ordination is for a single church that chooses to call someone as their pastor that has no interest in serving any other than their present church. The church votes on the ordination and the individual is recognized by the NACCC as the pastor of the church. However, the full privilege of the minister is only recognized by the church he/she is serving. The ordination does not extend beyond this boundary.

Licensure is the normal progress of an individual going into the ministry. A church gives "in care" status to a student in seminary. The church licenses this person to give them full ministerial privilege in their church while attending seminary. After receiving a seminary degree, the church can proceed with ordination if that is their desire. However most Congregational Ministers wait for their first call to a church and are ordained in that church.

Commissioned Lay Ministers
Lay ministers in a church can be commissioned as their pastor. This would give the lay minister full privilege in the commissioning church. Usually this decision is visited once a year and re-decided if the desire to continue with this lay minister-church ministry is to continue.

Many lay ministers which have received a certificate of completion in the "
Lay Ministry Training Program" through our Association have arrangements such as these with their church.

Installation is a solemn recognition of a minister as pastor and teacher in a church. A similar ceremony and vicinage council as in ordaining a minister is held by a church.
Sample Installation Service

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