The Church of Ireland, along with the Methodist Church in Ireland, has been developing a course of training for those who wish to offer themselves for service as an ordained local minister.
Training for ordained local ministry ( OLM ) is now due to begin in September 2018 and applications for the training next September should be submitted to Diocesan Directors of Ordinands by the end of January 2018 (at the latest).
An ordained local minister will not be an incumbent of a parish but will be someone who can exercise some leadership role within a local congregation – the nature of their deployment may vary from diocese to diocese.
The underlying philosophy of the open learning course is that it will be integrated so that the development of learning and understanding takes place alongside the honing of practical ministerial skills and continuing spiritual formation. There will be a blended form of learning with the use of lectures, tutorials, workshops, on-line learning and self-study. It will be accessible to OLM training but also to ministerial training for the Methodist Church in Ireland and to a wide range of other users. It is hoped too that future modules will be developed for the training of specialist areas of ministry such as pioneer ministry and chaplaincies.
It will be a flexible Open Learning Certificate Course provided through Queen’s University, Belfast. Teaching may be local, which might mean diocesan or inter-diocesan depending on location and numbers, with central input. Five modules may be undertaken per year in years 1 and 2, with a further two modules in Year 3.
OLM training will last two years but those who have undertaken the Foundation or Readers’ Course will be given an exemption for two modules enabling them to be ordained deacon after one year. Training will continue beyond ordination as a deacon with the aim that all students will successfully complete the necessary modules to gain the Open Learning Certificate.
The modules being put together for September 2018 are Biblical Studies, Theological Reflection, Worship and Preaching 1, Introduction to Pastoral Skills, and Church History. Staff from both the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) and Edgehill College are involved in this module preparation.
The bishops have put together a Selection Process with Criteria for OLM. Central to it is a sense of God’s call. Those applying must be baptised and confirmed members of the Church of Ireland with a sense of their vocation to this particular ministry; a vocation which in the first instance may have been locally identified.
Their personal commitment, spirituality, character, leadership potential and flexibility will be assessed during the selection process. Selection itself will be undertaken in each diocese to reflect the local or diocesan nature of this ministry. Those wishing to pursue OLM should speak to their Diocesan Director of Ordinands. An information leaflet can be downloaded HERE.