I'm in an unusual situation in that I have been ordained, but for various reasons am looking for a new overseeing body. My MDiv will be official in May... Does anyone have any advice for us nondenominational types? Are there progressive ordination groups that aren't patriarchal or so nondenominational as to be unidentifiable as Christian?
Or maybe I'm the only RevGal to have this question...
I'm a Rev but don't have a place to hang my stole...
The Vicar of Hogsmeade offers:
I don't know if you are the only one to have this question but I do know that I have no idea how to answer. However, I just found this website the other day through Rev. Nannette Sawyer's ( the BE 3 presenter) twitter feed: The Center for Progressive Christianity . Maybe that resource can help you on your journey.
Rev. Songbird writes:
The way the question is phrased is a bit off-putting. For me, progressive and patriarchal are antithetical. I'm not sure what is meant by "so non-denominational as to be unidentifiable as Christian." The progressive churches/judicatories are emphatically denominational. Those are the systems that have owned and promoted women's ordained leadership, and all of them are going to have standards for receiving a person ordained elsewhere that are rigorous and unique to the traditions of the denomination.
It sounds like the questioner is looking for a new church home, in the global sense, a new field for ministry. In that case, she needs to start with her basic theological understandings and seek a denomination that is in the "neighborhood" of those understandings. How does she understand the nature of the sacraments? What is her understanding of the Trinity? Where does she fall on the interpretation of scripture? These are the questions a judicatory will want to ask, along with needing an explanation of the departure from the tradition/group that ordained the pastor. Further, no one will want to take on a pastor who doesn't fully embrace the body offering a new home. In other words, you can't just land somewhere and expect people to take you in just because it's what you want. There has to be a mutual understanding.
In my tradition, your ministerial standing requires local church membership. We do offer Privilege of Call to pastors from other denominations under certain specific circumstances, but that is based in the understanding that they are searching in our denomination and ready to leave theirs behind if a call is found. In other words, you have to be all in to come over to the UCC. That's a function of our local polity, and it's up to the local Church and Ministry committee to determine whether there is a mutual sense that a person's ministry could be compatible with ours.
And that's just a thumbnail sketch of one denomination.
for the questioner, I would recommend taking the time to visit churches in your area that belong to denominations that ordain women, and see how the Spirit speaks to you.
And Sue adds:
Sorry, but this one has me quite stumped. In our denomination, once the MDiv and internship requirements are met, we are "settled" (as in placed) in our first charge, so there is no search for a call. That process may change in the next few years, but for now, that's how it works. We cannot be ordained without having been settled in a congregation. If no congregation is found, ordination is deferred.
In any case, your situation is really difficult. The closest I could come to an answer for you would be to head North and think about the United Church of Canada. We are uniquely Canadian and lean pretty far to the left theologically. The caveat is that the process for entry from another denomination is quite demanding and can take from three to five years, regardless of what other study you have already done.
The only other suggestion I might have would be the Unitarian churches, which often have a strong body of Christian believers in attendance. My experience is that Christians who attend Unitarian churches do so for the intellectual stimulation, not the spiritual or pastoral care. There's nothing wrong with that, but it may not be your style of ministry.
And Rev Abi said:
And Rev Abi said:
I feel like I need a few more details to clarify some things before I can answer your question, but here is my shot at it.
I changed from the denomination that originally ordained me to another. It took me three years to decide on which denomination I felt I could best find a home in which to serve. I looked at most all of them, asked many questions, sought to understand the theology and practices. And asked myself was this a place I could call home? Did I feel God was calling me there? After deciding which one to go with, I followed what was required of me to change denominational ordination, which took another 5 years. But after 5 years of studying, being mentored, and practicing to then be fully ordained. Would I do it over again? Yes, I would. Would I go with another denomination? I might. Would I change now? Yes, if I felt God was leading me that way, but I don't. You can email me if you want to ask questions or want to learn more.
Our matriarchs offered some thoughtful advice. What about the rest of you? Do any of you have experience with this issue? If so, please share in the comment section!