What is an Associate Member?

Some Local Pastors may wish to apply for Associate Membership in the Annual Conference after they have completed Course of Study; An Associate Member has the same appointment security as Elders have and are fully itinerant. — 2012 Book of Discipline, ¶¶ 321-322

What are the qualifications to apply for Associate Membership?

Disciplinary requirements:

• Reached 40 years of age (Paragraph 322.1)

• Served four years as full-time Local Pastor (Paragraph 322.2).
      - Per Susquehanna Conference policy, two of these years are to be served following completion of COS.
Those years must be full time and may not be rolled into a 2 year equivalent.

• Completed five-year (20 credits) Course of Study (Paragraph 322.4). Up to four courses may be taken by correspondence/distance learning.
At least half (10 credits) must be taken at residential on-campus program.

• Completed a minimum of 60 semester hours toward a Bachelor of Arts or equivalent at an approved school or university. (Paragraph 322.4)

How do I apply for Associate Membership?

• Contact the Local Pastor & Associate Member Registrar, Joan Dodson -, for the application packet and information regarding interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry. Requests for application packets must be made by mid-September to be eligible for interviews in March.

• Each candidate will ask his/her District Committee to approve their application for Associate Membership in the fall.

• Each candidate will ask his/her District Superintendent to submit a reference.

• Each candidate will submit written materials and be interviewed in: Worship; Life Issues; Theology; VIM experience; Bible Study. Details of these assignments are in the packets. Submission deadline for materials is generally mid-January.


Successful candidates will be voted on at Annual Conference and will be recognized as Associate Members during the Commissioning, Recognition and Ordination Service.

Advanced Course of Study

The purpose of the Advanced Course of Study for Ordained Ministry is to provide a curriculum which will enable a Local Pastor to meet the educational requirements for full conference membership and ordination as an elder.

• The courses chosen will not duplicate those included in the basic five-year curriculum.

• Courses selected shall include both foundational and functional studies appropriate to each candidate. Foundational courses include studies in the areas of theology, church history, biblical study, or church in society. Functional courses include advanced work in counseling, church administration, preaching, teaching or worship. Courses in evangelism and United Methodist history, doctrine and polity are required.

• Four to six semester hours of credit may be earned each summer in the Advanced Course of Study.

• Advanced Course of Study students may enroll in the Master of Divinity curriculum courses.

• Each student shall have all courses approved and recorded by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

• Graduate studies not taken in a theological school, which parallel courses offered for advanced studies, may be approved by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to a maximum of nine semester hours. Such studies must have been taken within the last 10 years.

• One basic unit of Clinical Pastoral Education may be recognized as the equivalent of six semester hours in the Advanced Course of Study.

• Susquehanna Annual Conference students must meet the educational requirements set by the Board of Ordained Ministry for full membership and ordination as an elder. These requirements must be met one full year prior to ordination.

Advanced Course of Study courses are offered during the summer sessions with the regular Course of Study schools.

University Senate-Approved Seminaries
         • United Methodist Theological Schools

Local pastors may fulfill the requirements for provisional membership and commissioning towards Elders Orders when they have:

Reached forty (40) years of age

• Completed the five-year Course of Study for ordained ministry of which no more than half can be completed by correspondence (maximum 4), distance learning or extension schools as offered by seminary approved university settings..

• Completed thirty-two semester hours of graduate theological study or its equivalent as determined by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, including a minimum of twenty-four semester hours of the basic graduate theological studies of the Christian faith including the areas of: Old Testament, New Testament, theology, church history, mission of the church in the world, worship/liturgy, and at least two semester or three quarter hours in each of the areas of United Methodist doctrine, polity, and history. Most Local Pastors will complete these courses through the Advanced Course of Study. Four to six semester hours of credit may be earned each summer in this Advanced Course of Study (see above).

• Once commissioned a provisional member, all requirements for full membership and ordination as an elder must be met, including serving two years as a provisional member. See ¶324, 2012 Discipline and the Susquehanna Annual Conference policies.