By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Sr. Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference
Photo right: Members of the Mississippi Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and staff from the Mississippi Conference Office of Spiritual Leadership met in February to discuss the agenda for The Next Phase Retreat.
Photo below right: The Rev. Robbie Murden was enthusiastically involved in planning the retreat.
When the Rev. Robbie Murden reflects on his call to ministry, part of his story includes the confusion he experienced around his entry to the ministry. In 2001, Murden was as a youth minister when he shared with his pastor and district superintendent that he wanted to become a deacon. Murden said both of them expressed their joy for him; however, they were not quite informed about the next steps he was to take to pursue the track. In the meantime, Murden said he was told to write his call story and was assigned a mentor.
"It was certainly not as much a discernment process as oppose to this discernment-allowing God to share with me and work on my heart and mind and truly understand what it meant to be called," said Murden.
More than a decade later, Murden explained that the process is still unclear for many aspiring ministers and the stages for candidacy are different from district to district.
As a member of the Mississippi Conference Board of Ordained Ministries (BOM), Murden and the board are committed to offering clarity around the phases. The BOM is collaborating with the conference Office of Spiritual Leadership to offer The Next Phase Retreat twice a year. This is a one-stop gathering for information to help those discerning. All of the districts will be able to send their candidates to this retreat. The goal is for each participant to walk away with three C's regarding their call: confidence, clarity, and certainty.
"There will be some time for discernment. There will be some time for education and learning about what the expectations are and about what is needed. I think it is going to make life a little bit easier to get all the information at the same point. It will be a good unifying situation instead of this district doing it this way and this district doing it that way," explained Murden. He also serves as the conference course of study registrar and he is the pastor at Moore Memorial UMC in Winona, Mississippi.
The Next Phase Retreat for 2016 will be March 31 - April 2 at Duncan Gray Center in Canton, Mississippi.
Those drawn to register for the retreat are encouraged to contact their pastor or district superintendent about attending. People can also contact the Mississippi Conference Office of Spiritual Leadership at 601-354-0515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for The Next Phase registration form. Click here to read more about the phases of candidacy in The United Methodist Church.