Commissioning Polity Manual
Policies and Guidelines for Commissioned Members of FCM
The Federation of Christian Ministries responds to the Divine Call by empowering and nurturing those inspired for inclusive ministries.
What is Commissioning?
The Federation of Christian Ministries (FCM) provides its members with opportunities for public ministry through its process of Commissioning. FCM Commissioning is a unique process for the FCM member and is not transferable to another organization. Only FCM members may apply for FCM Commissioning. In FCM all members are equal and without distinction. Commissioned or not Commissioned, all have equal dignity and value.
Commissioning is the recognition of a call to public ministry by a community of believers. This ministry may include witnessing marriages, providing pastoral care as a chaplain, or other forms of public ministry. Commissioning is essentially an "ordination," the authorization to minister on behalf of FCM, and an affirmation by FCM that the commissioned person meets the criteria of FCM in recognizing its members.
The statutes of most states require authorization by a recognized ministerial body for those ministers officiating at weddings. The term commonly used by these national bodies is "commissioning," the term adopted by FCM.
What is the process?
The applicant, who is a member of FCM, will provide the following to the regional vice president(s), an officer of the Circle of Directors elected by members in the geographical region of the applicant:
1. The completed, signed Commissioning Application.
2. Three letters of recommendation, at least one of which is from an active FCM member. If the applicant does not know an active member, it is incumbent upon the regional vice president(s) to facilitate an introduction to a member from the applicant's geographical area. The regional vice president will verify the authenticity of the letters.
3. Criminal background clearances from any state in which the applicant lived must be obtained before being commissioned. This will require an additional fee on the part of the candidate.
4. The name of someone to serve as the candidate's ministerial colleague. It is recommended that the ministerial colleague be an FCM member with whom the commissioned member can exchange ministry concerns and mutually assist in professional/spiritual growth. This colleague should serve as a mentor in the early stages of one's Commissioning.
5. A one-page statement of candidate's ministerial self-understanding, which includes a description of the candidate's reason(s) for seeking FCM commissioning, and how the candidate plans to maintain her/his community relationship with FCM.
6. An additional statement of the candidate's professional skills and education/ training already attained or a plan to acquire them. The regional vice-president will determine the suitability of the candidate's academic, pastoral, and personal qualifications. This determination may be made in consultation with the Commissioning Chair. A lack of education or ministerial preparedness may require further study, course work, or obtaining a certificate of ministry preparation from an approved college, university, or seminary such as Global Ministry University. Any program of study must be approved by the regional vicepresident in consultation with the Circle of Directors.
7. An updated resume.
8. The necessary Commissioning application fee payable to 'Federation of Christian
Ministries,' which will include the fee for the background check.
9. At some convenient time there should be a Commissioning Ceremony as a visible expression of the Commission of the newly commissioned member. Ideally, this ceremony could take place at the FCM Assembly, but it may also be an informal celebration with ministerial colleagues. Documentation of, or plans for, this ceremony must be sent to the regional vice president.
Who may apply for Commissioning?
Commissioning is open to all FCM members. However, the presentation of the materials does not in itself assure that the member will be commissioned.
The decision to Commission rests with the Circle of Directors at one of its semiannual meetings.
How long does the process take?
Once the applicant's requirements for commissioning have been met, the applicant's name will be submitted for approval at the next meeting of the Circle of Directors. There is no minimum waiting period either to begin the process or to be commissioned beyond awaiting the next meeting of the Circle of Directors.
What is required to maintain FCM authorization to function as an FCM minister?
To maintain one's authorization to function as a minister in the name of FCM, a Commissioned member must submit his or her dues and annual report in a timely manner.
A person's Commission can be revoked at any time. However, this is quite rare, usually involving a violation of FCM's code of ethics, the professional standards of the agency served, or the laws of conduct of legal entities of the locality of the minister.
Reasonable accommodations for family leave and othr temporary absences will be made by the regional vice president.
What else do I need to know?
A Commissioned member who witnesses a marriage acts as a civil official as well as a minister of FCM and is responsible to conform to all the legal requirements for witnessing a marriage in that locality. Commissioning is the official authorization by FCM that the commissioned member is in good standing with FCM.
Commissioned members are responsible for their own liability insurance.
After a suspension of faculties/authority to minister, how is reinstatment
Most suspensions occur when the commissioned member fails to submit their dues and annual report during the renewal time. The reinstatement for such a member occurs during the first calendar year of such a suspension through the submission of the fee and the annual report.
After a one-year suspension period but before three years of suspension, the member must submit the current one year fee, an annual report and one letter of recommendation. This member must also write an explanation of the events leading to the suspension. Finally, the regional vice president must approve the reinstatement.
After three years of suspension, the commissioned member must undergo a background check at their expense, provide two letters of recommendation, provide an explanation of events leading to this lengthy suspension, and the regional vice president must approve the reinstatement.
After five years of suspension all requirements for a new candidate for commissioning must be carried out to accomplish the reinstatement.
How does FCM recognize the ordinations of other Christian denominations?
FCM will recognize the ordination of a candidate for commissioning when acceptable documentation of the ordination is presented to the regional vice president. In this case the FCM commissioning procedure is followed, and concludes with the grant of faculties/authorization-to-minister. The entire commissioning process is followed in order to provide the confidence of granting faculties based on a process with all due diligence.