UMC ordination candidate Will Deuel cuts loose on the process whereby the UMC selects ordained ministers:
I have incurred tremendous debt and uprooted my family to attend seminary. In the middle of seminary my family moved again so that I could serve a student appointment. We moved a third time when I graduated for my commissioning appointment. I have attended the required Residence in Ministry sessions in which I have sat through lectures (some for a second or third time) that were often boring or ill-prepared. And I have gladly accepted the itinerant system of pastoral appointment. I attended Sexual Ethics and Boundary training twice: once on campus at Eden after being informed by the Conference that said training was acceptable, and once at IGRC headquarters after they rescinded their word without even informing us. We were given nasty letters threatening action if we did not attend the next upcoming workshop. I once was informed that the Board of Ordained Ministry lost my psychological evaluation. (Yeah, all that confidential information? Not safeguarded at all.)
And that's just one paragraph. Will has sent this post on to his Bishop, which will, in my experience, hurt his chances of ordination. I don't know if it will end his candidacy, as he does not name names (as I did), but it certainly can't help him. However, I think that Will's intent was to gain the healing and clarity that comes from speaking truth to power. I wish him the best, as he is a man committed to what Christianity is supposed to be all about.
Read all of Will's post, which he summarizes as saying "The Board of Ordained Ministry has not created a pathway to ordination, it has created an obstacle course."
This is an important fact for all candidates for the ordained ministry (and those considering entering it) to know about: candidacy is more about hazing than it is about preparation. That's why Will's "obstacle course" metaphor is spot-on.
You don't think that the Conference actually "loses" all of the paperwork you send it, like the psychological reports and references? No, of course not. They throw them away and make the candidate check in to see if they were received and re-send them when they were not. Conference and District staffs are not that incompetent.
Will and I have both written about the various stumbling blocks that are thrown in the path of candidates. These frustrate candidates so that many self-select out of the system, and the remaining are ordained. The UMC candidacy system is not a spiritual formation process, it's a test of willpower and a willingness to take abuse.
I'll admit this: I'd be hard pressed to come up with a better system that does not result in a superfluous number of people being placed under guaranteed appointment in a shrinking system.
I do recognize that, in spite of how it all ended for me, there is nothing particularly evil about the candidacy process. It was simply used as a weapon against me by evil men and women. I figured out that the system was hazing-based early on. And I was quite willing to endure the hazing and follow all orders so as long as those in authority over me acted in good faith and and adhered to the Discipline.
Further thoughts by Craig Adams (a man who, in my experience, takes holiness very seriously), John Meunier, and a discussion at The Methoblog.