Initially, accepted candidates for the ministry were trained by a system of apprenticeship, under which they were placed in the care of their Superintendent minister for a period. From 1784 the period was four years, to which was added after 1834 two (later three) years spent in the Theological Institution. Studies were prescribed and annual reports made to the probationer's District Meeting (Synod). The other branches of Methodism developed similar systems and in outline this survives today. Two years in a carefully selected circuit or similar appointment is regarded as the minimum. The studies are designed as one element in a wider programme for the early years of ministry. During this period probationers preside at the Lord's Supper only if authorized by the Conference. In 1956 a ban on the marriage of probationers was lifted. Probation is considered complete on reception into full connexion.

  • History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain 1 (1965) pp.248-50