Monday, September 11, 2006


Well, everyone, I got them in the mail today! They were in an ominous envelope with the return address of “UM Conference Center, Columbia MO” in the upper left corner. Trembling in anticipation, I tore open the seal and pulled out … my ordination papers! (Or technically, my paperwork to complete in order to be considered for full membership in the annual conference. But for brevity’s sake, let’s call them ordination papers, okay?)

I have to complete this paperwork between now and December 1st – in other words, guess what my blog posts will consist of for the next two months? That’s right, friends, my answers to the questions in my ordination paperwork. Then, after I read all your comments on them, I’ll be equipped to deal with the interview team from Conference. I’ll say:

“Well, Kansas Bob liked that answer, so why don’t you?” or

“You know, I think bethquick would agree with me when I say …” or

“Now, of course if Larry B. had his own blog, he would point out the weakness in your argument.” or maybe even

“In fact, John gave this answer a ‘Best of the Methodist Blogosphere’ award two weeks ago.”

Here’s what I got in the packet, in order:
- A memo describing a “Paperwork Orientation Opportunity” next month.
- An instruction page.
- A shockingly pink checklist.
- A Biographical Information Form.
- A Waiver of Access to Personal File form.
- A criminal conduct disclosure form (needs to be notarized).
- An instruction sheet for Effective Practice.
- A Pastoral Care Experience Verbatim Report Format form.
- An instruction sheet for Proclamation.
- An instruction sheet for Theology and Doctrine.
- An instruction sheet for Worship and the Sacraments.
- A letter to my District Superintendent, asking for his review of my ministry.
- An instruction sheet for a Staff Evaluation form
- The Staff Evaluation form.
- An Assessment of Accomplishments, Improvements, and Goals form.
- A form describing the On-Site Interview Process

Seriously, how many forests were killed in putting together this packet? I’m telling you, my stress level increased 50% simply by opening the envelope! It’s not really a surprise, since most of the stuff is the same stuff I did when I was commissioned three years ago. But back then I was in seminary, so I was in the mode, you know? I was writing a lot, reading a lot of theology, immersed in academia. Now I’m immersed in something else altogether! (Pause...) No, not that, I'm talking about being immersed in local church ministry, and my mind is clenching up at the thought of doing this all over again – and this time for more than a grade, for my calling!

I know what I should do: do a little bit of work on this stuff every week between now and December 1. However, there’s a big gap between that knowledge and the actual completion of the assignments. A gap that, for me right now, is a major source of consternation. Put me on your prayer list, please!


John said...

Beth and I will just let your BOOM know that you're okay. That should make things go a lot faster, given our lofty reputations.

Joel Thomas said...


Consider getting all the easy stuff out of the way first. It can lead to a sense of accomplishment.

I always wrote my ordination papers out of sequence, tackling first those questions thta I felt the most on top of. Again, I felt some accomplishment.

Consider a plan of rewards. "I'll do this, this and this," and then I'll take my wife out to dinner or the kids to the zoo or whatever." Get plenty of sleep, if at all possible.

I also advise putting the books away at least a month before you write the paper or answer the questions. It is clear that you understand UMC polity and theology. You don't need those props any more. Now, when you are finished, if you want to double check here and there, fine.

For my first paper, I was contantly immersed in the books and BOOM, though passing my paper, wasn't greatly impressed, complaining that it didn't flow and was hard to read. And that was after an English major had proofed it! The second time I just wrote what I knew and I receive many compliments. I hadn't read any theology in a couple of months. It is clear from reading your blog that you already know why you are UMC and what it means to be such. Have confidence in such!

I realize you are mainly asking for prayers, but if anything I suggests helps, fine. Or file 13, if you prefer. My second paper had virtually no foot or endnotes, which made for smoother transitions and reading.

If a question stumps you today,that doesn't mean it will stump you tomorrow. Skip it and come back later. Answer first the matters you are really passionate about.

Also consider not even consulting your earlier paper. It can imprison you. Begin anew.

Kansas Bob said...

Yes grasshopper, I'd be happy to help, but first you must learn the way of the Farce:

"Show me, paint the fence."

"Show me, sand the floor."

"Wax on, wax off"

Bonzai, Andy-san!

Anonymous said...

No forests were killed for you paperwork Andy. Feel no guilt. The industry operates by cutting and replanting and has done so for years now.

Isn't it strange how we spend so much of our time worrying about the wrong thing and so little of our time worrying about things that are really important? Now stop worrying about tree plantations and go out and spread the Good News.

David said...

My prayers are with you. I just finished mine three years ago, my wife did hers two years ago, and my sister did hers last year my wife does full-connection, and my sister the year after life has been surrounded by papers. They happen. Be consistent, be intentional, have fun. Explain them as you might to a well-educated person who was a catholic and now interested in the UMC. (at least that was the way the BOOM asked questions when I got to them)

Vinny said...

Heh. I remember spending a long, long night in Kinko's about 6 years ago in Columbia with The Rev. copying the answers to her Book of Discipline questions so they could be mailed out to all of the OMT persons. I think it wound up to be around 3,000 pages or so. But there are worse things - standing next to us that night at another copier was our former D.S. who was furiously sorting through shoeboxes of receipts making copies for her tax preparer. It was April 13th or 14th.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, ditto about the trees used in ordination paperwork. We have to provide copies (double spaced, one side only) of everything for every board member. What a waste of paper! I wish they would consider other formats.

I took a three-day retreat to write the bulk of my paperwork, in late August, and paperwork was due Nov. 1. After that, I spent time fleshing out and/or revising what I'd started with. I'm not good at spreading that kind of work out and pacing and not procrastinating!

GenXGirlRev said...

Hey Andy!
Just be true to yourself and to your calling and understanding of God and that problem for you! You are truly gifted. As for the trees, I grieve for them and dream of the day that ordination papers will be done through blog the meantime, I look forward to reading your papers here and dialoguing with you about them. I've been quite the coach in Cal-Pac of candidates for the last few years. Blessings, Erika

Kevin Shelton said...

Hey bro,

Saving the trees from the demands of United Methodist paperwork is a special ministry calling of its own... You wanna ride together to Sedalia next month?

Larry B said...


Congrats, I guess :) I had no idea all the paperwork you guys had to go through. I tell you I know for sure now, it's much easier being an engineer. I'm glad my gifts didn't fall into the pastoral category and glad yours did. I'll pray for you and your gifts to shine.

Look forward to the posts from the paperwork!

eric schmidt said...

In the words of Dorie (NEMO) "Yes I am a natural blue." No I mean, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." You will make it through and will be amazed that it wasn't as bad as you thought. I finished my paper work over two ago and it just took preseverence. Good luck and you will be in our prayers at Wesley House.

Anonymous said...


Congratulations! I look forward to you sharing in the months ahead and will keep you in my prayers.

Warmest regards,
Dark Gable

Jason Woolever said...

Andy, rock on man. In a few months you'll be done. I remember the strain of trying to crank it all out a few years ago.

I'm sure you'll rock on them.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why they didn't ask for a letter from your mother! cb

dabeckztr said...

well congrats!!
I can't believe its been 3 years since I came to your graduation.
well good luck with all your paper work, i know you'll swim through it all and come out on top!
I've just begun on all that paper work, I've applied to Perkins, awaiting my reccomendation letters...
I'll take my Phycological test next week and go before DCOM in Nov. to get approved for the Certified Candidacy! WOOT WOOT!!
Tell your family i said hello!
Much Dallas Luvin!!!

Joel Thomas said...

Instead of a "packet" arriving in the mail, we get a letter telling us where to find all the materials, questions and forms on the Conference website.

Jim Morrow said...

I love the picture...