The 2004 General Conference of the United Methodist Church authorized the creation of the Certified Lay Minister (CLM) and the designation was included in the 2012 Book of Discipline. The General Board of Discipleship and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry were given the task of working together to develop the basic curriculum and framework for how the program would be organized.
The Certified Lay Minister Program
A CLM is called and equipped to conduct public worship, care for the congregation, assist in program leadership, develop new and existing faith communities, preach the Word, lead small groups, or establish community outreach ministries as part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of a clergyperson. The Certified Lay Minister serves to enhance the quality of ministry, much like a class leader did in early Methodism through service in the local church, District, or Conference. To become a CLM candidate, one must be a Christ Servant Minister/Lay Servant in good standing, with a minimum of two years CSM experience that includes one CSM Speaking Course (or a person with equivalent training as defined by the EPC). Persons who feel the need for more ministry training and responsibility, after consultation with their pastor, approval of the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, and District Superintendent are accepted to begin the program.
Assignment and Recertification
Certified Lay Ministers may be assigned by the District Superintendent to provide lay pastoral leadership, as part of a ministry team, in local churches... but have no clergy rights or benefits. Certified Lay Ministers may be re-certified by the District Committee on Ordained Ministry every 2 years after successful ministry program evaluation (CSM Annual Report) and recommendation of Charge Conference from the congregation to which the CLM is assigned (or, if not assigned, the congregation of membership).
Required coursework to become a CLM
The following four modules must be completed and taken in order:
1. Introduction - Call and Covenant for Ministry — minimum 10 hours contact time
Description: This course includes a Spiritual Gifts Inventory, understanding the individuals call to ministry, Ministry covenant and recognizing ordering for Ministry.
2. The Practice of Ministry — minimum 10 hours contact time
Description: Worship: Styles of Worship, Leading Worship, The Role of Music, Prayer, Scripture in Worship, Praise and Worship – a Performance or Joint venture, Including all Ages in Worship, Worship Resources
Preaching: Preparing and delivering sermons, The Sacraments, Evangelism; its meaning and helping students understand the importance of reaching out to others. Pastoral Care: Visitation, Funeral Care, boundaries and Safe Sanctuaries.
3. Organization of Ministry - minimum 10 hours contact time
Description: Focus on the leader’s task of organizing a congregation for Mission and Ministry. Understanding congregational culture. Leadership, Ministry N.O.W and Committees that work.
4. The Connection for Ministry - minimum 10 hours contact time
Description: United Methodist History, Exploring the Theology and Doctrine of the Christian Church, and the contribution of the United Methodist Church. The connection between the local church, district and annual conference.
Additional requirements include: - completion of Safe Sanctuary Background checks, completion of the EPAC Basic Sexual Ethics course, and completion of Changing Racism weekend retreat.
The above work and requirements are designed to prepare a Lay Person for effective pastoral service as part of a ministry team that will include a Supervising Pastor. Course material may be transferred to the Local Pastor course of study as designated. Students wishing to go further must go through the candidacy process.
Certified Lay Minister Program
(COVID-19 has required us to make significant changes to scheduling for the Class of 2021)
Class of 2021 Certification 2022
Orientation Sessions - October 3, 2020 - April 1, 2021
(Attendance at one orientation session is required for program admission.)
All sessions will be held via ZOOM video conferencing...
with an invitation sent only after you register for a session.
Contact Judy Ehninger, CLM Program Coordinator, to register your attendance preference.
Call: 610-442-3140 or Email:
Orientation session dates & times in 2021
Orientation sessions are two hours in length. Attendance at one session is the first step in the admission process and therefore is considered to be a requirement. Registration for one session is required.
All admission materials and requirements will be reviewed during the session. Admission materials (application) will only be distributed to those completing an orientation session.
Contact Judy Ehninger, CLM Program Coordinator with questions and further information and to register for an Orientation Session.
christservantministries.net (link on CLM page) or EPAUMC.org Laity page
Program Module Class Times
Some of the Program Module classes will either be offered virtually utilizing ZOOM video conferencing, while others will necessitate meeting in person at the Valley Forge Conference Center. Module classes must be taken in the sequence offered.
Tentative module schedule for 2021
(Dates and times are subject to change based on class make-up and current conditions)
Module 1 - May 1 , 2021 8-4
Module 2 - June 4-5 2021 Friday evening and all day Saturday
Module 4 - September 25, 2021 Historic St. George’s
Module 3 - November 13, 2021 8-4