Alternative Ministerial Education


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.

AME Dean

The Dean of AME, Dr. Paul Maitland (, retired as the pastor of Second Baptist Church in Peoria in 2013. He is a graduate of Houghton College in New York, Gordon Conwell Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. With the exception of a five-year stint as a church planter in Michigan, all of Paul’s ministerial service has been in the Great Rivers Region. Paul has served as the President of the Great Rivers Region (2014) and is an active member of the GRR Action Learning Team working on the challenge of small churches with dual income pastors.

A note from the Dean (PDF)
Opens in new window.

AME Curriculum

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
  • Preaching
  • 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.

GRR Courses

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.

AME Process

  1. Enrollment in the AME begins with a conversation between the church, the candidate and the Area Minister.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. When all course work has been completed, the Dean will issue a certificate of completion.
  6. 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 and Procedures (PDF)Opens in a new window adopted by the Regional Ministry Board.