United Methodist Association of Communicators

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Certification FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Certification

What is certification in Christian communication?
Certification is an affirmation by your peers and the Church that you have met standards for training in communications, and you are committed to making a Christian witness through the ministry of communications in a church-related position.

Will certification help me get a job?
Perhaps…although that is not the primary purpose of certification. Certification recognizes your religious commitment and training in communications. If that is what your prospective employer is looking for, your certification would be an asset.

Is certification a step to ordination?
It might be. Certification in Christian communication is recognized as one of the professional certifications in specialized ministry available to United Methodists. Your annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry can advise you on the process leading to ordination.

If I don’t intend to be ordained, is certification for me?
Certification in Christian communication is available to laity, diaconal ministers, ordained deacons and ordained elders. If you believe God has called or is calling you to ministry through service as a communicator in The United Methodist Church, you may want to pursue certification.

Do I have to be a United Methodist to qualify?
All members of the United Methodist Association of Communicators are eligible to apply for certification provided they have had continuous lay or clergy membership in a Christian church for at least five years before application. United Methodists who are not members of UMAC may apply provided they have had at least five years of continuous lay or clergy membership in The United Methodist Church.

Do I have to work for The United Methodist Church to qualify?
Yes. You must be employed in a United Methodist-related professional communications position for a minimum of two years immediately preceding certification. This may be in a local church, a district, annual conference or general agency communications staff position or in an institution or agency related to any part of the United Methodist connection. Your employment must be for at least 20 hours a week and a major source of income. You may fulfill the employment requirement while completing other requirements for certification.

What are the academic requirements for certification?
Candidates may choose from one of the following options:

  1. Earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in a communications discipline (mass communications, journalism, public relations, broadcasting, film) and a graduate theological degree at institutions approved by the University Senate. (NOTE: Candidates for deacon’s orders should see The Book of Discipline 2000, Para. 315.4.b.2 and Para. 315.5 to determine specific degree requirements).
  2. Earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in a communications discipline at an institution approved by the University Senate and complete eight semester hours of graduate coursework at a seminary approved by the University Senate covering the following areas: Bible, theology, United Methodist studies (doctrine, polity and history) and practice of ministry.
  3. Earn a graduate theological degree and complete 15 semester hours of college coursework in communications at institutions approved by the University Senate. This coursework should include introduction to communication theory/practice, writing for mass media, communications law and introductory public relations.
  4. Complete the Communications Ministry Institute sponsored by Martin Methodist College, Pulaski, Tenn., in cooperation with the Committee on Certification in Christian Communications. (NOTE: Although this option was originally created for candidates with very limited communications or theological education, many experienced communicators are finding this a helpful way to quality for certification or for continuing education.)
  5. Receive Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board and complete at least eight semester hours of graduate coursework at a seminary approved by the University Senate covering the following areas: Bible, theology, United Methodist studies (doctrine, polity and history) and practice of ministry.

Can the academic requirements be waived if I have extensive professional experience in communications?
A three-year period allowed United Methodist Association of Communicators members who have been employed as Christian communicators within The United Methodist Church or a related organization of The United Methodist Church for at least 12 years to apply for certification with that experience meeting the requirements for education in journalism and/or public relations, church polity and theology. The window for applying for certification expired in September 2006.

Is financial aid available?
Scholarships or grants may be available through your annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry or other sources.

How long does my certification last?
Certification is subject to renewal every two years. Renewal is dependent on continuing employment in the field of communications and evidence of continuing education. You will be provided with a document outlining the standards for renewal of certification and an application.

Who coordinates the process?
The Committee on Certification in Christian Communications is composed of representatives from two bodies. These are United Methodist Communications, the official communications agency of The United Methodist Church, and the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC), a voluntary professional organization for communicators within the United Methodist connection.

What kind of skills would I need?
The list is open-ended but includes such skills as news writing, script writing, editing, graphic arts, Web design, video production, broadcasting, public relations, marketing, advertising, media relations, so forth.

Who decides if I will be certified?
The Committee on Certification awards certifications. Once the candidate has met the academic, work and church membership requirements, (s)he provides written answers to questions provided by the committee and is interviewed by at least two members of the committee. This interview may be conducted in person or by telephone.

Who will know that I am certified?
Newly certified communicators and those recertified each year are recognized at the annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators. Formal notice of your certification will be sent to your employer and to the registrar of your conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Recognition of your initial certification will be encouraged during your Annual Conference session. Your conference will be urged to include you in the list of certified persons published annually in the conference Journal.

How do I begin the process?
Send a letter requesting of inquiry about certification in Christian communications to:

Kathy Noble, Registrar
Certification in Christian Communications
United Methodist Communications
P.O. Box 320
Nashville, TN 37202-0320

You may also e-mail your request to knoble@umcom.org or call 615-742-5441.