We want to share the exciting news that last Thursday, June 25, the Metropolitan Boston Association of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ held an Ecclesiastical Council at which Elizabeth “Betsy” Wooster was formally authorized as candidate for ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ. This marks the final step in Betsy’s Discernment and Formation process, and Betsy has now completed all the requirements of this multi-year program.
Ecclesiastical Councils are a traditional and important part of our congregational polity as in our denomination the association of member churches holds the authority to ordain ministers. Betsy’s Ecclesiastical Council was nontraditional in that it was conducted via Zoom, an innovation in the gathering process prompted by the physical closures of MBA UCC churches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councils offer delegates from member churches an opportunity to meet candidates for ordained ministry, review credentials and hear a candidate’s statement of faith, knowledge and experience, and then hear responses to an examination of questions. After the examination, delegates from member churches within the MBA vote to authorize a candidate to seek a call. And this is the next step in Betsy’s path to ordination in the UCC. After the MBA’s Committee on Ministry approves a call, the Hills Church will be honored to hold a service of ordination for Betsy.
Betsy’s credentials include her Master of Divinity degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Boston University School of Theology in 2019, her training in Clinical Pastoral Education as a Chaplaincy intern at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2019, and her contextual education as she served as seminarian at Old South Church in Boston and as Chaplaincy Fellow in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Wellesley College.
Betsy has a deep faith and a rich background in church life, including serving for over a decade as a professional Christian educator and Director of Spiritual Formation with churches in Ohio.
Betsy’s discernment and formation process was overseen by the Committee on Ministry of the MBA. She has been accompanied on her journey by a team appointed in 2017 by the then Senior Deacon Mark Fraga, including Kevin Groppe, Beverly St. Clair, Rev. Deborah Thornton, and Mary Hill Canavan, and I have been honored to serve as her ministerial advisor.
I want to congratulate Betsy, and thank all who have supported her as she responds to the call to serve God’s church.
Rev. Judy Swahnberg