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When individuals sense a call to ministry, they may choose to seek ordination from their faith community. Through ordination, a faith community consecrates an individual for ministry and affirms her/his calling to ministry.
Sometimes, however, ordained clergy sense that they are no longer in alignment with the faith group that ordained them, or that while they are still in alignment with their ordaining body, they also resonate strongly with other faith traditions. For these ordained ministers, The ChI Interfaith Community, which is the spiritual community of The Chaplaincy Institute, offers a Transfer of Ministerial Standing/Dual Ministerial Standing Program.
Through this program, ChI is not ordaining ministers again. Rather, we are affirming their previous ordination and receiving them into our community as Interfaith ministers. Those successfully completing the program become Clergy in Good Standing with The ChI Interfaith Community and are received into our community as interfaith ministers.
TRANSFER OF MINISTERIAL STANDING
When a faith group ordains clergy, those individuals have “Ministerial Standing” within that faith group. Most faith groups will also have ongoing requirements for ordained ministers to maintain their good standing. Transfer of Ministerial Standing is intended for ordained clergy who feel called to transfer their clergy credentials from the faith group that ordained them to ChI’s Interfaith Community. They sense that their theological and ministerial identity has shifted from a singular faith tradition to an Interfaith worldview that guides their personal and professional path.
Those who transfer their Ministerial Standing are received into The ChI Interfaith Community as Clergy in Good Standing and are required to complete an annual process to maintain that status. This standing has both spiritual and vocational implications. Some employers require proof that any clergy/chaplains who apply for a specific job (or wish to retain that job) currently are in good standing with their faith group.
DUAL MINISTERIAL STANDING
Dual Ministerial Standing is intended for those clergy ordained by a faith group who want their clergy credentials to remain with their ordaining faith community and also wish to add another clergy affiliation, namely ChI’s Interfaith Community.
For instance, an ordained Protestant minister may wish to retain Ministerial Standing with his/her Christian denomination and also have Ministerial Standing with The ChI Interfaith Community as an Interfaith minister. Such dual standing reflects the minister’s identity as both deeply rooted in a particular faith tradition and also wholeheartedly committed to the Sacred Truth experienced in all faith traditions that nourishes and guides them spiritually and vocationally.
By completing this program, ministers are received into The ChI Interfaith Community as Clergy in Good Standing. Proof to an employer/potential employer of current Ministerial Standing could then be provided by either their original ordaining body or by The ChI Interfaith Community. They will be required to complete an annual Clergy in Good Standing process to maintain their Ministerial Standing with ChI. Maintaining Ministerial Standing with their original ordaining body is the responsibility of individual ministers and is not monitored by ChI.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Ordination is a process in which a religious/spiritual community designates and consecrates specific individuals as clergy with the intent that they will minister to the spiritual needs of others in the name of and on behalf of that community. Individuals usually first have an internal sense of a calling to ministry, which is then confirmed externally by that community through an ordination process.
The ChI Interfaith Community does not “ordain again” previously ordained ministers through its Transfer of Ministerial Standing/Dual Ministerial Standing Program, but rather we receive as interfaith ministers in good standing those candidates who complete all requirements.
Clergy in Good Standing status means that you are demonstrating, to the satisfaction of your spiritual community, an ongoing commitment to your personal wellbeing/self-care, your spiritual and psychological development, your professional growth, ethical conduct and the sustainability of your spiritual community. Demonstrating this ongoing commitment is necessary in order for your Ministerial Standing to remain current.
In the years since my 1998 ordination, my theology and spirituality have broadened and deepened. So when I felt a call to become an Interfaith minister at large in my community, it felt imperative to realign myself with a faith community sharing similar thought and practice.
My primary need for transferring my ministerial standing to the ChI Interfaith Community was to experience professional and spiritual belonging, credibility for my ministry in my local community, and accountability to an organization greater than myself. However, what I've experienced in the process of preparing to transfer my ministerial standing has been far more comprehensive and rich than I ever imagined it would be!
The Chaplaincy Institute, affectionately called ChI, is the educational body affiliated with the ChI Interfaith Community. While attending ChI, I've encountered a world-class faculty who are not simply teaching, they are out in our world making a difference as Interfaith ministers. And my peers in the ChI program and in the ChI Interfaith Community are doing the same. Each sought out ChI as a means of fully equipping themselves to respond to their own unique inner call to Interfaith ministry. Thus, my vision for all that's possible to bring understanding, healing, and peace to our world has been greatly expanded, and my own contribution to that is heartily encouraged.
What has been most surprising about the process of transferring has been the personal, professional, and spiritual growth which has been both prompted, guided, and fully supported by the program design and the faculty. I'm gaining knowledge and skill. My spirituality and spiritual practices have been enriched. I've done considerable inner work over the years, yet there remained deeper parts of myself ready for further healing and strengthening so that I can serve others authentically and powerfully. These have been gently coaxed into the light to be attended with trust and loving-kindness.
My transfer process may have begun with my desire for professional and spiritual affiliation, but it has now become all of that and much more. It's a journey of transformation.
Rev. Amy Hoyt who completed ChI's Transfer of Ministerial Standing Program in 2013, was one of three women who shared about their faith journeys and their thoughts about God during a service at the All Souls Community Church of West Michigan,. "This is the first speaking I've done since retiring a year ago April and then moving to Michigan," Amy says. "And it was a pleasure to both write and present.”