From the late nineteenth century on, some local preachers were engaged as assistants to circuit ministers and came to be known as lay pastors. After the 1932 Methodist Union most full-time paid lay ministry was through the Lay Pastorate. The Home Mission Department/Division maintained an official list of approved Pastors, who worked under its authority and oversight in the circuits to which they were appointed. Many had trained at Cliff College. They appeared on the Circuit Preaching Plan alongside the ministerial staff and often had a dispensation to administer the Sacrament. In 1947 and again in 1963 Conference expressed misgivings about this form of ministry. Lay Pastors were not paid the full ministerial stipend, yet were often appointed to undertake full presbyteral ministry. A District Chairman commented that the system was either an injustice to the man in that he was not accorded ministerial status and emoluments or an injustice to the Church in that it was using as ministers those who had not been fully trained for the role. In 1948 the Church made it possible for Lay Pastors to offer for the presbyteral ministry on the evidence of acceptable service in the circuits. Many of the 95 who offered were accepted and became ministers.
Entry written by: PWS
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