Opportunity: Endorsed pastoral counseling professionals

August 6th, 2014

The United Methodist Endorsing Agency is a part of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The agency provides endorsement for elders, deacons, and licensed local pastors serving beyond church walls.

So, what is endorsement?

Ecclesiastical endorsement is an affirmation that an ordained minister or licensed local pastor is performing a valid ministry of The United Methodist Church (UMC) and has presented evidence of the special education, training, skills, and, when required, professional certification necessary to perform that ministry. Endorsement is the authority granted by the denomination to be appointed to and provide ministry in a specific setting.

Many pastoral counselors and marriage and family therapists (MFT) are in private practice. However, others work for counseling centers and clinics. When working for an organization, it is important for the employer to know a few things about endorsed United Methodist clergy. For instance, endorsed UMC clergy are highly trained professionals accountable to both the employer and the church. Being endorsed, they have earned a reputation for their outstanding professional skills and capabilities. These attributes not only bring healing and hope for the clients they serve but empower organizations to provide the highest standards of professional service and competence.

The church can truly celebrate the ministerial gifts of the pastoral counselor and MFT who has earned the church’s endorsement. This endorsement credential:

  • attests to one’s suitability and competence for ministry in pastoral care and counseling; 
  • signifies the denomination’s commitment of support for the counselor/therapist’s ministry beyond church walls; 
  • gives an assurance that the counselor/therapist is in good standing with and appointable by the bishop; and 
  • renders an affirmation that the counselor/therapist will accommodate the religious rights of all people within the institution or organization’s scope of care. 

If there is a need for an employer to dialogue with the church about specific issues or concerns related to the UMC’s endorsed constituent, the employer should initiate contact with UMEA’s endorsing agent.

How does one become endorsed?

An application for endorsement may be obtained by contacting the United Methodist Endorsing Agency (UMEA) via mail, phone, or e-mail (umea@gbhem.org). Once an application is received, the applicant is responsible for providing all requested materials to UMEA. This includes a succinct life history and a statement of your understanding of ministry as it pertains to the setting for which you are seeking endorsement. The application is to include the names of two personal references and your district superintendent. UMEA will contact your bishop, district super intendent, and personal references for a reference report. When all materials have been received and the requirements are met, an interview will be scheduled. UMEA will cover the applicant’s expenses for the interview.

It is important to have a relationship with UMEA not only for the credentialing endorsement but for the extended relationship in its ongoing nurture, support, advocacy, and denominational connectedness throughout one’s endorsed ministry. This includes:

  • the provision of on-site visits, cluster gatherings, and continuing education opportunities; 
  • the provision of pastoral care in response to a specific need; and 
  • interpretation of the endorsed community’s transformative stories of ministry with the greater church. 

UMEA offers continuing education opportunities and typically sponsors three continuing education events (CEE) each year. The CEE programs are offered in various geographic areas. Each year’s program is designed to meet an identified need expressed through the endorsed constituency, which addresses common issues in diverse settings of ministry. In 2014, the continuing education program will focus on the theme of pastoral care for domestic violence. Continuing education credits are given in partnership with UMC-related seminaries, colleges, and universities.

At the present time, the United Methodist Endorsing Agency has over 1,600 chaplains and pastoral counselors who are endorsed to serve in specific settings of ministry beyond the church walls. If you are interested in seeking endorsement or have questions related to the work of the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, please contact us through e-mail at umea@gbhem.org or call 615-340-7411.

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