Editorial Keynotes

Differentiation between worker papers.

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

For our workers in this movement, a bal­anced and logical series of licenses and cre­dentials that is symmetrical and complete has been developed. Each has its justification, and each has a balanced relation to the others. The credential is the highest recognition given in each class, and is preceded by a license, which is preparatory thereto. Thus the one pre­supposes the other. It is highly desirable that there be no confusion, and no granting of the wrong papers.

An over-all survey may be helpful. Let us note, first, the minister's papers. These are de­signed to be restricted to ministers in various phases of ministerial development and service. The ministerial license is for those who would normally be ordained in due course of time, if no deterring development took place. This li­cense is for the beginner and for those of lesser experience, up to the time of ordination. It is usually issued to our senior college theological graduates upon completion of their training, as they go into conference service. This license carries through the period of internship, until credentials are given at the time of ordination.

The ministerial license is not designed for businessmen, medical men, educators, Bible in­structors, and others, unless they are in actual ministerial service and in line for ordination. (For that large general group of workers of varied talents and responsibilities, the mission­ary credential is issued, and is the highest paper granted to this larger and more general group of fellow Christian workers. It is appropriate and sufficient.)*

The ministerial credential is the highest paper and is restricted to those called and ordained to the gospel ministry in its various phases. It en­titles its bearer to perform all the functions of this position—the right to baptize and to conduct the ordinances in any church, to perform the marriage ceremony, to organize a church, and to discharge other related. responsibilities.

The Bible instructor license bears a similar and paralleling relationship to the ministerial license for young, unordained ministers. It is designed for those who are beginning or devel­oping in the Bible work as a calling, before re­ceiving the full Bible instructor credential, which is the highest recognition in its field. The Bible instructor, license is for those who are entering upon and developing in actual Bible work, or who are temporarily so engaged. It is not for the pianist at the effort, unless she is actually giving Bible studies and teaching in the homes of the people. It is not for those who are otherwise helping in an effort, as those in charge of the publicity or duplication work, the stenographers, the caretakers, etc. If papers are required for these, they should have the general missionary license.

The Bible instructor credential should be re­stricted. to those who, through experience and success, have demonstrated their fitness and call to the Bible work. These sisters are not or­dained, nor necessarily set apart for life, as with the ministry.

The dignity conferred and the honor be­stowed in receiving the Bible instructor creden­tial should ever be borne in mind. It is comparable in its field to the ministerial credential for the minister. Occasionally some Bible in­structor has a keen desire for a ministerial li­cense. She wishes to preach, conduct services, instruct large groups, raise funds for churches, and otherwise function as a minister. She pre­fers a minister's license—a secondary paper—to the Bible instructor credential, which is the highest paper we issue for this group of faithful co-workers.

Occasionally the argument of better discounts for gasoline and more easily obtained clergy rates from railroads and busses is injected by some into the picture. But that is not the real issue. The conference can usually arrange lo­cally for its Bible instructors, as gospel work­ers, to get the same. rate at a filling station as that of a minister. Let us never lower the stand­ards of the church and its authorizing papers for the sake of mercenary ends. And let us ever deal with the matter as a whole, and not in the light of a local or personal circumstance.

If a minister is dissatisfied with the highest calling on earth and desires salaries and com­mercial advantages offered elsewhere, he should in all honor withdraw and make way for those who are supremely happy in the ministry and grateful to serve. The same is true of the Bible instructor who aspires to other lines with seem­ing advantages.

Let us honor the profession we follow. Let us not cross over the lines and confuse issues. There is a place for each, and each should be in that place. There is an authorizing paper for each, and each should be happy and content with the high privilege of service in the place chosen for us by the brethren and by the God we serve. If we are misfits, let us seek a proper adjustment through proper channels. Let us thank God for the high privilege of service. Let us honor the brotherhood of the ministry. Let us esteem the sisterhood of Bible instructors.


*While we are dealing here primarily with papers for ministers and Bible instructors, a word on the dis­tinction between the missionary license and the mis­sionary credential may help to complete the picture. The same sequence is here found as with all other pa­pers in this balanced series. The missionary license is of a more general character, for those engaged in denominational work outside the fields of direct ministry and Bible work, often in business or related lines. It is for beginners and those of less experience—stenogra­phers, secretaries, those engaged in clerical work, etc. The missionary credential, on the other hand, is for the experienced fellow laborer—the conference treas­urer, the Book and Bible House secretary, experienced secretaries, and many others in the service, not looking toward the ministry as a lifework.

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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

October 1947

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