By Linda Hendelman
In explaining her professional certification in Spiritual Formation, Catherine Inserra said it pushed her “to explore and question my faith in order to provide me with a pathway for life-long spiritual growth as a lay woman in ministry.”
Catherine was recognized at the 178th Northern Illinois Annual Conference at Pheasant Run Resort for completing professional certification in Spiritual Formation. The impact of the learning at the seminary level supported the areas in which she serves, Catherine observed.
The Rev. Lynn Mikels, Certification Registrar on the NIC Board of Ordained Ministry, commended Catherine for her professional certification.
“Catherine and other certified professionals attest to the importance of best practices in specific areas of ministry for the benefit of the church,” she added.
Professional certification for both laity and clergy is available in several areas in addition to Spiritual Formation, including Christian Education, Youth Ministry, Church Administration, and Ministry with the Poor. Certification attests to a high level of knowledge and skill in ministry, according to Mikels.
The Director of Christian Formation and Youth Ministry at Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette, Catherine began seeking professional certification some eight years ago at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She credits her home church, First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, where she coordinated Children’s ministry and helped plan worship, with encouraging her to try seminary course work and discovered the professional certification option for laity. Both her home church and Trinity UMC supported her spiritually and financially with scholarships.
The requirements for professional certification are established and monitored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and administered by the conference through the Board of Ordained Ministry. Requirements include coursework, psychological assessment, personal and professional references, and an interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry. The NIC supports certification through administration of the psychological assessment, recordkeeping, and interviews.
According to Catherine, her professional certification influences her pastoral skills as well as the practical application of resources in the area of Christian Formation. Additionally, “meeting others in seminary [and] sharing rich experiences and insights into the Christian faith and journey are priceless,” she stated.
Having completed professional certification, Catherine is now a Deaconess candidate. She feels that both clergy and lay professors at Garrett provided excellent instruction. Certification, she explains, builds strong and informed leaders to be the church and deepens commitment. She explained that professional certification gave her the opportunity to expand her knowledge and understanding of prayer, discipleship, and overall Christian formation.
“Churches can feel confident in seeking the services of these professionals for consultation, workshops, or employment,” said Mikels, and churches should encourage certification for church staff and seek to employ those who are certified.
For further information on specific requirements and procedures, see the GBHEM website at www.gbhem.org or contact Rev. Mikels at firstname.lastname@example.org.