Dear Friend in Christ,
Thanks for your inquiry about ministry in the Ecumenical
Catholic Church+USA. While I will answer your specific questions
in another letter, I am sending you this note to answer some frequently
asked questions about ministry in the ECC+USA. Also, carefully
read our Canons, Belief
Statements, and Church History
on this website.
1) What is the process for being ordained in the ECC+USA?
The first step is to read about us on this website, ask questions, and then if you would like to be considered for ministry, complete the application that you will find as a link on this website.
2) What training (education) do I need to be ordained in the ECC+USA?
We require that candidates for ministry either have an adequate background in Sacred Scripture and theology or that they develop proficiency in these areas through coursework either in our seminary program or through other coursework in a mutually acceptable program. We first evaluate prior ministry related education and experience and then develop with the candidate a course of studies to be completed prior to ordination to the deaconate or priesthood. We certainly do not expect the same extensive training that many of the mainline churches expect and provide for their clergy.
3) Is there full time paid ministry available in the ECC+USA?
Yes and No. When a congregation or ministry is able to provide financial support for a clergyperson, it is expected to do so. However, at present most of our clergy (deacons, priests and bishops) support themselves through their secular employment and give without monetary compensation their time and talents to the development of their ministry. Most ministries begin as a tentmaker ministry in the spirit of the apostle Paul and the early Christian disciples. Most of our clergy perform their priestly ministry in the manner of the French worker-priest movement of the mid-1940s. Finally, as described in our Church Law, clergypersons are not hired by our National Church, but rather are selected and function in operational matters as agents of the local parish board or church corporation.
4) Are there expenses involved in getting ordained in your church?
No fee or charge is ever paid for ordination! There are, however, some expenses that are passed on to the applicant. This is the current total list:
A. There is an application fee of $50.00. That covers printing, mailing, background report, and follow-up telephone conversation. It is non-refundable.
B. As part of the application process, the applicant is required to visit in person with the Presiding Bishop or other clergy living more proximate to his/her home. Travel expenses related to that visit are the responsibility of the applicant.
C. All coursework is paid for by the candidate directly to the seminary program provider (either our own seminary program or a mutually agreed upon program). See our current Vilatte Theological Seminary Catalog on this website so that you know in advance the cost of coursework through our program. We award coursework credit toward ordination for ministry related coursework in other institutions and for ministry related job and life experiences. There is no charge for transfer and experiential credit.
D. For ordination: There is never a charge for ordination. Our Canons does require that Ordinations ordinarily take place at our annual Synod/Retreat.
E. Currently ECC+USA clergy in Sacred Orders (deacons, priests, bishops) who are financially able are asked to make an monthly donation of $10 to help with church expenses. If someone is unable to make the requested donation, he/she simply talks to the Bishop to make adjustments.
F. Deacons, priests, and bishops are expected to purchase their own vestments and altar appointments needed in their ministry. The offerings of the congregation are used by the pastor for the operational expenses of the parish or ministry.
G. Our Church Law (read it on this website) requires that all clerics attend and participate every year in our Church Synod/Retreat wherever it is held. The travel costs and registration fee are the annual responsibility of the cleric.
5) How long does it take to become a deacon or priest in the ECC+USA?
That is not an easy question because each candidate presents his/her personal educational and experiential background and we respond by accepting and giving credit for past education and experience. So, the “how long?” timeline varies. However, in general, we expect that about six months after the candidate begins his/her Course of Studies, he/she will be ordained to the Minor Orders of Acolyte and Lector; then six months to a year later, he/she can be ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon. Those seeking ordination to the Sacred Priesthood ordinarily will serve for one year as a deacon.
I hope this information helps you as you look at the
possibility of serving in the ECC+USA as a clergyperson. We want
to be totally upfront with you as you look at us and I promise we
be. E-mail me at BishopRobert@ecc-usa.org
if you have any questions or would just like to talk with me to see
if we can be partners in the ministry of the Lord.
If you would now like to move on to the next step,
please request a Clergy Candidate Application at BishopRobert@ecc-usa.org.
God bless you as you discern how to best serve the Lord.