New Role of the Licensed Minister

Licensed Ministers——Role and Status

N. R. Dower is director of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.


A 1976 Annual Council action clarifies the role of the licensed minister, meeting a long-felt need. Steps have now been taken that make it possible for a licensed minister assigned to a church or churches and companies to perform the functions that may rightly be expected of him in his pastoral duties.

Although the document speaks for it self, it might be advisable to emphasize certain points, which need to be kept in mind as this new policy is implemented.

First, each world division determines the extent of the licensed minister's functions. This is necessary so that the training and experience of these pastoral workers may be given proper consideration, along with other factors that make it desirable in some fields for limitations to be imposed that would not be necessary in other fields.

Second, it should be noted that the expansion of the duties of the licensed minister shall in no wise detract from the importance and necessity of ordination to the gospel ministry. The licensed minister in performing his pastoral function gives evidence of his ability in and adaptability to his new role as a minister of Jesus Christ. Such ministerial "practice" helps develop his preparation for ordination.

Third, it should be pointed out that each year a responsible committee, chaired by the president and, in most cases, consisting of the conference or mission committee, will review the experience, growth, and development of the licensed minister and determine whether sufficient progress has been made to justify continuing these privileged functions for another year.

Lastly, we appeal to all our ministers whether licensed or ordained to submit so fully to the control of the Holy Spirit that God can work in a mighty way to finish the work so that Jesus can come soon.

The licensed minister is granted his license to provide him the opportunity to develop his ministerial gift, especially in the area of soul winning. There are circumstances in many fields, however, where it is necessary for the conference/mission to appoint him to carry responsibilities as pastor or assistant pastor of a church or group of churches. In order to help make it possible for him to bear such responsibilities, the Church Manual provides that the church or churches he is appointed to serve elect him as an elder, thus providing him with authority from the local church and opening the way to perform certain ministerial functions as outlined in the Church Manual. But in the nature of the case he also represents the conference/mission which appoints him, and in varying degrees, depending on the fields involved, the field may wish to extend his responsibilities and authority, delegating to him certain other ministerial functions in order to enable him to discharge his responsibilities satisfactorily. Therefore,

Voted, To approve the following statement regarding the role and status of the licensed minister:

1. In certain circumstances the responsibilities and authority of the licensed minister may be extended to include the performance of specific functions of the ordained minister in the churches to which he is as signed. This responsibility belongs to the division committee, which shall clearly out line for its territory the ministerial functions which may be delegated to licensed ministers, taking into account:

a. The length and extent of its ministerial training program.

b. The needs of its fields, allowing for the distribution of their membership, the number of churches and the ministerial help available.

c. Any special circumstances that demand special consideration.

2. In delegating ministerial functions to licensed ministers the following prerequisites shall be satisfied in all divisions:

a. The licentiate shall have completed the prescribed ministerial training requisites of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as defined by the division committee for its territory. Exceptions must be approved by local and union committees within guide lines established by the division committee.

b. He is the recipient of a ministerial license.

c. He has been appointed by the conference/mission executive committee to a ministerial or pastoral responsibility.

d. He has been elected as a church elder in the churches, or named in the companies to which he is assigned.

e. He has been ordained as a local church elder. The conference/mission executive committee shall authorize, in harmony with the division policy, what functions of the ordained minister the licensed minister may perform.

3. A licensed minister's leadership progress, professional development and spiritual growth will be reviewed annually by the conference/mission administration and executive committee.

4. A licensed minister's authorization to serve as a minister of the gospel and to perform functions of an ordained minister may be withdrawn by the conference/mission executive committee.

5. A licensed minister is ordinarily ordained to the gospel ministry after he has satisfactorily fulfilled a period of pastoral/evangelistic service during which time he has given evidence of his call to the ministry. The spiritual rite of ordination constitutes the official recognition by the Seventh-day Adventist Church of one's divine call to the ministry as a life commitment, and is his endorsement to serve as a minister of the gospel in any part of the world.

It was further

Voted, To authorize the implementation of the action on "Licensed Ministers—Role and Status" as follows:

1. The standing Church Manual Commit tee is requested to revise relevant portions of the Church Manual for presentation to the 1977 Midterm Annual Council, which in turn will recommend to the 1980 General Conference session a study of the modifications and amendments that will then be necessary in the Church Manual. Every endeavor should be made to hold such modifications and amendments to a minimum by leaving certain aspects of the subject to the discretion of division committees which will cover them in the division supplements to the Church Manual.

2. The General Conference Ministerial Association is requested to revise the Manual for Ministers to include the necessary modifications and amendments.

3. The General Conference Secretariat is requested to revise the General Conference and North American Division Working Policy with a view to recommending to the 1977 Midterm Annual Council the necessary modifications and amendments.


The action above is quoted verbatim from the 1976 Annual Council minutes.
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N. R. Dower is director of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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