TFAM, Kirchengemeinschaft, & Ordained Ministers From Other Communions

As a denomination that was itself born out of a spirit of ecumenism, the United Church of Christ (UCC) celebrates the diversity of the Body of Christ and appreciates the many gifts of ordained ministers from ecumenical bodies. 

The UCC has formal arrangements with many denominations that allow for their ordained ministers to bless the UCC and the Church Universal through service in a UCC ministry setting. These formal arrangements are sometimes referred to as being in full communion or are described as having orderly exchange of ministers. These formal arrangements between the UCC and those ordained by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the United Church of Canada, and denominations through the Formula of Agreement follow processes known as Ordained Ministerial Partner Standing, Dual Standing, or Privilege of Call. 

For ministers ordained in various other traditions, processes of authorization exist to be authorized to serve in a UCC ministry setting and/or in and on behalf of the UCC.

Safe Church policies

Background checks and resources for creating a safe space for all congregants.

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM)

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM) is a trans-denominational, theologically diverse fellowship and therefore does not fall within the protocols of mutual recognition or orderly exchange related to full communion agreements. The UCC’s General Synod approved an affirmation of the relationship between the UCC and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, saying:

A unique relationship exists between the UCC and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. There are UCC congregations and clergy who are active participants in The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. There are also congregations and clergy within The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries that have a desire to become affiliated with the UCC, and still others that value and support the relationship between the UCC and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries but choose not to become a part of the UCC. — General Synod 29

Since ministers from The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries who desire ministerial standing to serve in a UCC ministry setting may have a wide variety of ecclesiastical histories and expressions, a TFAM minister may seek different kinds of standing.  A TFAM minister might request Dual Standing while serving in a UCC ministry setting for a limited time.

A TFAM minister may alternatively request Ordained Ministerial Standing in the UCC to serve and to seek calls to UCC ministry settings, and to access the UCC search and call system with a UCC Ministerial Profile. After an initial interview and assessment, the Committee determines if the appropriate avenue for the person is the Member in Discernment process or the Privilege of Call process, based on demonstration of the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers.

After the Committee determines the appropriate process, that process is followed with the understanding that a TFAM minister is not required to relinquish their relationship, office, or title with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in order to seek or maintain ministerial standing within the UCC.

For more information and to be connected to a Committee on Ministry, please contact Rev. Ellis Arnold, Associate Conference Minster, ellis@ucctcm.org.

Kirchengemeinschaft

In 1981, the UCC entered into a full communion agreement with the Evangelical Church of the Union in Germany (EKU). In this relationship the term “Kirchengemeinschaft” is used rather than “full communion.”  This term is a German word expressing a broad range of meaning around “full church community/communion.” This relationship has been expressed both through a national working group and through regional/ Conference partnerships. In 2003 the General Synod reaffirmed Kirchengemeinschaft as the EKU itself became a larger body of reformed and union churches called the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK). This agreement does not include mutual recognition or orderly exchange of ministers. Rather, a UEK pastor who wishes to gain ministerial standing in the UCC applies for either Privilege of Call or Dual Standing.

For more information and to be connected to a Committee on Ministry, please contact Rev. Ellis Arnold, Associate Conference Minster, ellis@ucctcm.org.

Ministers From Other Communions

As United and Uniting Church in partnership with other communions throughout the globe, the UCC is an important partner in mission and ministry with many different denominations. There are several other ecumenical agreements between the UCC and other denominations, both domestically and internationally. If an ecumenical agreement does not specifically articulate mutual recognition of ministries and orderly exchange of ministers, then persons from those communions work with Committees on Ministry who determine based on demonstration of the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers which authorization process is most appropriate. A Committee on Ministry may decide that the process will be that of Privilege of Call, Dual Standing, or the Member in Discernment.

For more information and to be connected to a Committee on Ministry, please contact Rev. Ellis Arnold, Associate Conference Minster, ellis@ucctcm.org.