Ministry Institute

Syllabus and Readings

All required reading assignments may be downloaded from this website or from other websites available on the worldwide web.  Other practical field assignments may be made requiring interviews, site visits, or attendance at meetings. Additional reading related to the topics covered is encouraged, but not required. These UCC Institutes are enrichment opportunities for all members of the UCC who want to learn more about the history, governance, theology and ministry of the UCC.


Amber Henry Neuroth, Senior Pastor
Hope United Church of Christ, Alexandria, Virginia

Daniel Sack

Francis Smith

Goals for the Ministry Institute:
(from the Essentials document)

  • Forms of ministry: licensed, commissioned, ordained; ministerial partners (CC/DoC) emerging patterns for authorized ministry; ministry of all the baptized
  • Structures and patterns of accountability, i.e., ordination, standing, discipline
  • Ministerial ethics (Ordained Minister’s Code, in MOM; other ethics documents)
  • Understandings of ministry in the UCC: “embodiment” and “empowerment” models
  • The ecumenical heritage and stance of the United Church of Christ


IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST INSTITUTE, read the complete “Short Course on the History of the UCC

  1. BEFORE YOU DO ANY OF THE ASSIGNMENTS PLEASE WRITE (no more than one single spaced page) answering the question:  How do you reconcile your understanding of the Reformers’ doctrine (i.e Martin Luther, etc.)  “priesthood of all believers” with the notion that Protestants still have clergy? Explain with you think or do not think an inconsistency exist here. Also, explain “priesthood of all believers.”
  2. INTERVIEW (by phone or in person) an ordained UCC clergyman/woman and ask them the same question. Continue your conversation asking them to tell you what ordination, or authorization for ministry in the UCC means to them? How do they understand ministerial authority? Where do they get it and how do they lose it?
  3. BRIEFLY ASK three people-friends under the age of 30 (churched or unchurched) what they think about clergy. Do they trust them? Do they think clergy are important? Could they imagine being clergy themselves?  Why?  Why not?


  1. Historical understandings of Ministry in UCC history and in contemporary society.



  1. Concepts and Understandings of ministry and oversight in the UCC.



  1. Ordination, Search and Call, and Clergy Ethics in the UCC


  1. How the UCC participates in Ecumenical Discussions about ministry.


  • The UCC Partnership Agreement with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) regarding ministry, especially the 1989 commitment to Partnership.
  • Read the sections in the UCC Constitution and By-Laws (sections 116-127) about partner ministerial standing.
  • The Formula of Agreement between ELCA, PC(USA), RCA and UCC. What does it mean for ministry?



  1. READ the Short Course on the History of the UCC (if you haven’t taken the history institute)
  2. WRITE A PAGE about why you think Protestants still have clergy.
  3. INTERVIEW an ordained UCC person.
  4. ASK three people under 30 years of age what they think of clergy and why.
  5. READ about various understandings of ministry/ordination in the historical traditions of the UCC. (embodiment, empowerment, higher calling, covenant, episcope, ecclesiology)
  6. REVIEW the Orders of Service for Ordination and Installation.
  7. READ the procedures and ethics of ministry in the Manual on Ministry
  8. READ about recent Constitutional changes related to “ministry” and the analysis of these changes by Jonathan New in his Prism article. [Link broken]
  9. READ about ecumenical issues involving ministry: the UCC/Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) partnership and the Formula of Agreement.

(Updated 12/1/2022)