Much of the ordination process of the UMC is built on an idea that we feel called into ministry. It took me ten years, from start to finish, to become ordained in the UMC. There is a long and comprehensive process for identifying a call into ordained ministry.
A mentor and friend whom I deeply respect and admire mentioned recently that we ought to consider the a process for those people who feel God calling them out of ordained ministry.
As our lives change and we gain wisdom over and our sense of self change over time, so to would one's sense of call. Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Will you be the same person 10 years from now?
What happens when a life of an ordained person in the UMC changes, and they no longer sensing a call in ordained ministry? Do we allow them to continue to do ordained ministry and limp along? Do we instead build into the system a process for transition out of ministry?
What would a process of being called out of ministry look like? Would that be something that would be an appreciated process for those ministers who can move out of ministry with dignity? It has to be better than surrendering credentials with a sense of shame and/or disgrace. It has to be better than "plugging along" until retirement.
Don't congregations deserve ministers we are called into ministry and not called out ministry?