This leads us to a more detailed exploration of the varieties of ministries in both our traditions with David Fletcher (ACC), Wayne Yorke (UCC), and David Hewitt (UCC) helping us with this discussion.

All could agree with David Fletcher (Director for non-stipendiary ministries in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) that ministry is the defining activity of the Christian community which begins with baptism, the ministry of all the baptized. Various functions of ministry are described in the Bible and traditionally three areas of ministry were recognized: mission being evangelism, outreach, social justice, and service; maintenance being worship, pastoral care, teaching and prayer; and oversight being administration, speaking on behalf of the church, participation in its councils. These functions evolved over time and solidified into the established orders of deacon (mission/service), presbyter/priest (maintenance), and bishop (oversight episcope and unity). These orders have continued in the Anglican Church. The order of deacon is normally transitional to being priested, but not always; there are some permanent deacons whose function is similar to that of diaconal ministers in the UCC. It was a distorted view of ministry that elevated the ordained in a hierarchical manner during the Middle Ages and into our present time. The distinction is not between ministry and lay ministry but rather between ministry and ordained/ordered ministry. We are called to be “ministering communities rather than communities gathered around a minister” (Wes Frensdorff). In congregations of both our churches, you will often find this expressed in printed material such as the Sunday bulletin in a statement like: “ Ministers: the Congregation. Clergy or Staff: name(s) of individual(s).”

David Fletcher explained the recent development in the ACC of non-stipendiary priests who are ordained and therefore may preside at the eucharist, but who serve only their local (parish) church at the license of the bishop. Their training and education differs from those in paid ordained ministry.

Wayne and David explained their roles and functions as lay pastoral minister (LPM) and diaconal minister respectively in The United Church of Canada. LPMs are recognized by Conference, exercising its episcopal authority, while diaconal ministers (one of the two orders of ministry, the other being ordained to “a Ministry of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care”) are commissioned, likewise by Conference, for “a Ministry of Education, Service and Pastoral Care.” They also spoke about the discernment process for ministry, that involves local congregation, presbytery, and Conference; and the training and educational requirements for these ministries. While a Master of Divinity degree is required for ordination, there are other paths established and provided nationally for the LPM and diaconal minister. Both of these ministers may, like the ordained, serve as sole paid accountable ministry personnel in a pastoral charge, and there is likely very little difference in what they do in the life of the community, despite the different emphases of their education and training. An LPM’s position has to be renewed annually at the request of the pastoral charge to the presbytery exercising its episcopal role, and is only for that particular place, although he/she may move to another place where needed. The two orders of ministry are subject to settlement, which means in effect that they are assigned wherever the church needs them within Canada (and Bermuda, part of Maritime Conference).

In view of the fact that those not ordained such as LPMs and diaconal ministers may be authorized by presbytery and Conference, jointly exercising their episcopal function, to preside at the eucharist, the question was posed: “Why not ordain them?”  The answer seems to be that this is not the practice because these ministries have arisen in different contexts and for other functions, and, in the case of the LPM, historically for local ministry only. Episcopal authorization, or licensing, was viewed as sufficient.  However, it was agreed that the distinctions between these ministries with different titles were often not clearly discernible as persons carry out their ministry.

A chart is appended that seeks to clarify these varied ministries. In the UCC those lay persons who are in paid, accountable ministries will in future all have the name of designated lay minister (DLM, effective February 1, 2009).

Can there be mutual recognition of ministries?  We consider not only the above discussion but also take into account the discussions concerning episcopacy and apostolic succession; we bear in mind the premise that God’s grace is active in the Church whatever its polity might be, and that the apostolic succession is witnessed in the faithfulness of the Church’s proclamation of the gospel in  Church and world. Therefore, it appears that the ordained minister in the UCC is parallel/equivalent to the presbyter/priest in the ACC. The UCC already accepts this principle in relation to the presbyter/priest in the ACC. Note that in the ACC one is ordained to the particular order “in the Church of God,” not in The Anglican Church of Canada. Those who transfer from the ACC to the UCC are not ordained again; they are received into the ordained ministry for the UCC; however, the reverse is not so. There are similarities in ACC and UCC liturgical rites of ordination, reception, commissioning, and recognition, which usually happen at the same eucharistic service conducted by the Conference.  Any perceived barriers to the recognition and acceptance of other forms of ordered or lay ministry in the UCC could well be overcome; parallels are to be found in the ACC.


The notions of “differentiated consensus” and of “unity in coordinated diversity” have been described elsewhere in this report. We also bring forward the notion of “bearable anomalies” (Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution IV.1) as being relevant to future discussion of the mutual recognition of ministries. (“This Conference  … recognises that the process of moving towards full, visible unity may entail temporary anomalies, and believes that some anomalies may be bearable when there is an agreed goal of visible unity, but that there should always be an impetus towards their resolution and, thus, towards the removal of the principal anomaly of disunity.”)

  • Therefore, we recommend that in its next stage the Dialogue explore and propose steps toward the mutual recognition of the ministries of our two churches in light of the notions of “differentiated consensus,” “unity in co-ordinated diversity,” and “bearable anomalies,” as well as the considerations named in this section of the report.

Official Ministries of The United Church of Canada and The Anglican Church of Canada: A Comparison

Ministry of Order/other Equiv. Function and Educational path Accountable to
Service and Outreach (ACC) Deacon Deacon Call to service ministry Vocational: Usually unpaid, but works in diaconal ministries; Transitional: priest in training Bishop
Education, Service, Pastoral Care (UCC) Diaconal Minister Diaconal Minister Permanent Professional (Paid Accountable) Call to service ministry, but often works in minisries of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care (licence to preside at sacraments granted); Specified Diaconal Ministry education program required Presbytery
Building up Body of Christ (ACC) Priest (Seminary trained) Permanent Professional Primary pastoral, preacher and presider. M.Div. required Ordained to preside at sacraments Bishop
Priest (Locally identified) Locally constrained, Normally collegial, non-degree education required Ordained to preside at sacraments Bishop and Incumbent
Word, Sacrament, Pastoral Care (UCC) Ordained Minister Ordained Minister Permanent Professional (Paid Accountable) Primary pastoral, preacher, and presider. M.Div. required Ordained: Presides at sacraments “ex officio” Presbytery
Oversight Bishop (ACC) Conference and Presbytery (UCC)
Education, Service, Pastoral Care (UCC) Designated Lay Minister Designated Lay Minister Ministry status while under appointment Specified Designated Lay Ministry education program Presbytery
Congregational Designated Minister Focussed area of ministry within congregation; educational requirements vary Congregation
Building up Body of Christ (ACC) Lay Reader Licensed, not ordained; but may preach and lead non-eucharistic worship Bishop
Word, Sacrament, Pastoral Care (UCC) Designated Lay Minister Ministry status while under appointment Specified Designated Lay Ministry education program May be licensed to preside at sacraments Presbytery
Sacraments Elder Specified training required Presides at sacrament only, limited to congregation/ pastoral charge in extraordinary circumstances only Presbytery
Licensed lay Worship Leader Licensed, not ordained; but may preach and lead non-eucharistic worship Presbytery
Congregational Designated Minister (word, pastoral care) Focused area of ministry within congregation; educational requirements vary Not normally licensed to preside at sacraments Congregation