The North American Division (NAD) Ministerial Association unanimously approved a new professional growth policy for pastors at the NAD Year End Meetings in Columbia Maryland. This new policy provides structure for pastors to continually become more effective in ministry.
The current Continuing Education policy for pastors in the North American Division, L70, is for the most part, no longer applicable. It describes a CE board and secretary that no longer exist. The new policy reflects the current practice in the NAD. The old policy was 1044 words. The revision is 399 words.
The purpose of the new policy
As the context of ministry continues to evolve, pastors must “continually hone the skills needed to perform their profession.” The revised policy calls for a “consistent continuing education plan which will allow pastors to enhance their ministry skills.” These include the “Core Qualities for Effective Ministry such as character, evangelism, worship, leadership, scholarship, management and relationship.”
CE Credits and Learning Activities
The revised policy “expects a minimum of two earned CEUs annually.” An hour of credit is defined as “ten hours of participation in a recognized continuing education program, with qualified instruction and sponsorship.” NAD Pastors are to record their credits online at the pastors’ certification website housed at the Adventist Learning Community. The recording site enables a pastor to submit a learning activity to the conference ministerial director for continuing education credit.
What kinds of activities qualify for continuing education? The revised policy states “Professional learning takes many forms but is not limited to the following: attending seminars, taking courses in person or online such as those found on ALC, reading journals and academic books, writing presentations or professional courses.” A table of learning activity credit standards developed by the ministerial association can be found here.
Most conferences already have a continuing education allowance for pastors. Some conferences are beginning to include continuing education elements in their annual pastors’ meetings. Others have regular book clubs with assigned reading and discussion in regional pastor’s meetings. Adventist Learning Community continues to add to the growing body of online continuing education courses for pastors.
AUCCEMAdC Predated the Digital Age
In the latter part of the 20th century the NAD voted to partner with the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary to create a continuing education center for pastors in the NAD. This new committee entitled “Andrews University Center of Continuing Education for Ministry at the SDA Theological Seminary Administrative Committee” (AUCCEMAdC) was to create technology for recording continuing education credits. AUCCEMAdC was to print up carbon copy forms to be filled out by a conference ministerial secretaries to recommend approval of continuing education activities. These applications were to be returned to (AUCCEMAdC) for approval and recording. While the process initially generated boxes and boxes of carbon copies, the momentum did not carry into the digital age.
Ministerial Committee Examines L-Policy
In 2011, A committee of local conference ministerial directors met for more than a year and went through the L Policy section and highlighted the parts that were no longer practiced in the NAD. This included the continuing education policy.
Adventist Learning Community
Meanwhile NAD Administration authorized the creation of the Adventist Learning Community which, among other tasks, would be able to have an online electronic recording platform for continuing education for pastors and clergy. A committee of conference ministerial directors developed a guideline for activities, hours, and CE units. This was ratified in a meeting where all conference ministerial directors were invited. In the fall of 2014 the platform was introduced and conferences began to use the new platform. Currently over 4,000 pastors have signed up for the new platform.
Input for Policy Changes
The new continuing education recording process and guidelines have been vetted in many local conferences including but not limited to the following: Upper Columbia, Central California, Alaska, Arkansas/Louisiana, Gulf States, Carolina Conference, Canadian Union Officers, Maritime Conference, Bermuda, South Eastern Regional, South Atlantic, Greater New York, North Eastern, Ontario, Guam/Micronesia, New Jersey, Chesapeake, Potomac, Dakota.
The new policy was presented to the policy review committee in 2016 and some excellent suggestions were incorporated in the next revision. Next the policy was presented to NAD Union Presidents, NAD Administration and an ad hoc conference presidents meeting in the summer of 2017 where more suggestions were incorporated. Finally, the NAD Policy Review Committee fine-tuned the document and approved it for submission to the 2017 NAD Year End Meetings where it was unanimously approved. NAD Ministerial feels confident that the suggested changes more accurately reflect the best practices of continuing education that are currently becoming the norm in the NAD.