The AME program was created by the GRR Regional Ministry Board in response to growing need while faced with the inadequacy of the old Regional Ordination Program. AME is innovative and unique in American Baptist life. It maximizes the flexibility of students in meeting course requirements and minimizes regional responsibility to maintain courses while at the same time assuring high standards. AME is administered by a Dean, who is appointed by the Executive Minister.
AME provides an alternative, non-traditional education for ministers – primarily pastors serving “family” or “pastoral” size churches and/or bivocational pastors. This avenue of preparation is referred to as “Track III” in the ABCUSA Standards for Ordination. The completion of the courses does not guarantee ordination or placement as a pastor.
Brian Romanowski has worked in and for the Great Rivers Region for many years. He was appointed Dean of Alternative Ministerial Education in 2023. Brian is excited to encourage and help those seeking ordination in the Great Rivers Region.
A total of ten (10) courses are required. The following five (5) core courses are expected to be equivalent to at least 2 college credit hours:
- New Testament Survey
- Old Testament Survey
- Introduction to Christian Theology
- Principles of Pastoral Leadership
These courses may be taken at accredited community colleges, Bible colleges, or seminaries (ABCUSA related seminaries) either by traditional classes or on-line self-study courses. This is the major innovation of this program.
- Practice of Congregational Ministry: This course consists of directed readings and coached practice by an experienced pastor. An experienced mentor will be assigned by the AME Dean. This very practical course will cover such topics as: planning and leading worship, baptism, Lord’s Supper, weddings, funerals, hospital visitation, etc.
- ABC History and Polity: This course is available at several ABC seminaries and colleges (both live and online) and is offered occasionally as a classroom experience by the Region.
- Professional Boundaries: This course is available at ABC seminaries. In addition, the Region occasionally offers a one-day course using the Sacred Trust curriculum from Faith Institute.
Two (2) courses are required relating to preparation for your specific ministry. These could be on such topics as Worship, Evangelism, Discipleship Training, Biblical Studies or Church Growth. These may be accredited courses from colleges or seminaries, or may be “customized” courses tied in with conferences at Green Lake or other approved training. These should be pre-approved by the AME Dean.
- Enrollment in the AME begins with a conversation between the church, the candidate and the Area Minister.
- The church must endorse the candidate for admission to the program. The church will consider evidence for a call to ministry, the journey of faith, Christian character, leadership experience, and understand why ministerial training is being sought.
- Send a completed application form to the AME Dean. Upon approval, the candidate is free to pursue courses in any order which they choose. Normal progress is expected to be two or three courses per year with completion of the program in four years. Candidates may apply to the Dean for a one-time extension if necessary.
- While licensing is entirely up to the church, we recommend that candidates should not be considered for licensure until the completion of ABC History and Polity, Professional Boundaries, and the Practice of Congregational Ministries courses.
- When all course work has been completed, the Dean will issue a certificate of completion.
- The church may take action to recommend the candidate for a recognized ordination. If so, the candidate enters the usual process for ordination, which is outlined in the Ministerial Standards Policies & Procedures that was adopted by the Regional Ministry Board.