Policy for Online Education

West Michigan Conference Board of Ordained Ministry

Policy for Online Education

May 16, 2013

            Theological education is in a state of continual flux based on advances of technology. This has led to a burgeoning of online educational possibilities for all levels of theological education.  This has in turn presented many challenges to Seminaries and Boards of Ordained Ministry to maintain consistent standards while at the same time staying current with technological advances.  Similarly, this has created confusion among students and potential students as to the requirements for Seminaries, Courses of Study, and candidacy eligibility for Boards of Ordained Ministry and District Committees on Ministry.  These complexities also exist for individuals attempting to transfer into the United Methodist Church from other denominations.

We on the Board of Ordained Ministry desire to stay current with technological realities and advancements in theological education.  At the same time, we highly value residential education of all kinds, believing that United Methodist ethos and thinking is best absorbed by students in the residential setting.

Effective immediately, the West Michigan Conference Board of Ordained Ministry adopts the following policy:

  1. Residential Study: All candidates, course of study and seminary students are encouraged wherever and whenever possible to pursue residential education to most fully absorb United Methodist ethos and thinking.
  1. Course of Study: Paragraph 1421.3.d) of the 2012 Book of Discipline provides that upon approval of the Board of Ordained Ministry, a candidate may complete up to one-half of the Course of Study through online courses developed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) Division of Ordained Ministry.

The BOM specifically approves of this standard.

  1. Seminary Education: On January 27, 2013, the University Senate and the Commission on Theological Education issued a statement saying that students pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church will be able to complete up to two-thirds (2/3) of their seminary classes online, as long as those classes are offered by one of the 13 United Methodist theological schools or Asbury Theological Seminary.

The BOM specifically approves this standard, and will accept any future changes made to this standard by the University Senate.

  1. Transfers under Paragraph 347. Pursuant to ¶ 347.3 of the 2012 Book of Discipline, individuals ordained in other denominations may have their credentials recognized by the UMC provided that they first complete the requirements of ¶ 335, including courses in United Methodist history, doctrine, and polity.  In the past, such transfers were required by the BOM to complete these UM classes residentially.  The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has produced an online curriculum specifically for these situations.


The BOM approves the completion of such UM history, doctrine and polity courses online as provided by the GBHEM.