Leadership Excellence

Leadership Excellence is one of three core practices for the Missouri Annual Conference. The Conference and its local churches develop missional leaders through a variety of Christ-centered pathways and spiritual formation practices that is focused on:

  • Moving from meeting God to an active, growing and authentic faith in Jesus Christ; and
  • Being identified as a leader and is mentored by another leader; and
  • Providing leadership in their local church and/or beyond, and
  • Identifying and has beginning to mentor a new leader

Culture of Call

God calls everyone to love and serve God. God calls some for licensed or ordained ministry. God calls others to laity leadership at all levels – the local church, district, Conference and broader UMC connection. The Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church has resources for local church leaders related to cultivating call, including:

  • A two-part online course, in which Rev. Molly Moore shares how you can cultivate an organic culture of call at your local church and how we can encourage listening to God's call at all ages.
  • Five Cups of Coffee, a simple and practical discussion starter for asking questions about calling and discipleship for use with youth through adults.
  • Discipleship Coaching online course, a model for creating a transformational, multiplying discipleship culture within a ministry context.

Lay Ministries

The Methodist Movement is a laity-led movement. Now, more than ever, laity are needed across the Missouri Conference. We need educated, empowered and equipped laity to lead our churches.

We believe that all are called to be servants for Jesus. That doesn’t need a title or status. And we believe that we are all called in different ways – some to preach, some to teach, some to lead, some to offer comfort, some to build, some to organize – the list goes on and on.

The Missouri Conference is committed to educating and empowering laity to go out, using the gifts each of us has been given, and be the hands and feet of Jesus and to ensure laity in Missouri are equipped for the needs unique to our Conference.

Stay connected with Missouri Conference lay ministries by subscribing to the Weekly Laity Newsletter.

Candidacy Process

The candidacy process guide – or steps to ministry - serve two purposes: they help you to deepen your own understanding of your call, and they help us to know you and be a part of your discernment process to be a certified candidate in the United Methodist Church. Click here to view a broad roadmap to licensed or ordained ministry or view our detailed candidacy checklist.

Candidacy Summit

Occurring twice per year – once in January and again in July – this event is for persons in the candidacy process, who have already talked with their district superintendent about entering the process. The weekend includes an introduction to the Missouri Conference, worship, spiritual formation, psychological evaluations, peer groups with mentors and more. View upcoming Candidacy Summit dates on the Conference events calendar.

District Committee on Ministry (DCOM)

The District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM) shall be amenable to the Annual Conference through the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM). All actions are recommendations to the BOM and shall be reported yearly to the Board through the mid-year report by the district committee registrar. The dCOM is an extension of the BOM and as such its mission falls under that of the BOM. The District Committee on Ordained Ministry is responsible for maintaining a list of all persons who have declared their candidacy for licensed or ordained ministry and are pursuing candidacy studies. Those seeking certification – from Certified Pulpit Supply through Provisional Membership – work with their district committee on ordained ministry.

The Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church seeks equity and uniformity in its interview processes. To that end, the dCOM Handbook serves as a vital tool for district committees working as an extension of the Board of Ordained Ministry.

Licensing School

Attending a UMC licensing school is the first step toward becoming a licensed local pastor. While the exact scheduling format varies by region, all schools are required to have a minimum of 80 contact hours with students. In this time, local pastor candidates receive clergy mentors, are assessed for basic skills and receive instruction in pastoral competencies and Methodist tradition. Missouri Conference Licensing School occurs annually in late May and is available for candidates for Licensed and Ordained Ministry who will be appointed to serve a local church.

Course of Study

The Course of Study (COS) is prescribed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry – Division of Ordained Ministry (Paragraph 1421.3d, 2016 Book of Discipline). It includes License School and the Five-Year Basic Course of Study or Part-Time Ministerial Leader Curriculum. In prescribing the COS, the Division of Ordained Ministry is responsible for developing curriculum, purpose and learning goals; providing resources; establishing, maintaining, and evaluating License Schools and Course of Study Schools (COS); keeping central records on all students, and reporting on student progress to each Board of Ordained Ministry every year.

Part-Time Ministerial Leaders Program (PML)

Local pastors may enroll in the Part-Time Ministerial Leaders (PML) curriculum as a Missouri Course of Study program within two years of the completion of licensing school. Enrolling in the program means completing all 10 courses in three years. Courses are offered in virtual or in hybrid formats that are less expensive and more convenient than traditional Course of Study (COS). Should a local pastor be appointed to a full-time church(es) while in PML, that local pastor will need to transition to traditional Course of Study. 

PML also serves as a Course of Study extension school for any local pastor (part-time) needing to fulfill a regular COS course. Approval is required from the Director of Leadership Excellence and the Course of Study Director for Saint Paul School of Theology.


Every summer, the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church offers local church internship opportunities for both college and seminary students.

Crossroads internships provide opportunities for college-aged students to work, learn and provide leadership in a local church setting for 10 weeks each summer. Interns can work in one of two internship arrangements:

  • Churches with which a relationship already exists, such as a home church or college church. Interns apply using the Crossroads application but are assigned to the church with which they have a relationship. The ministry site and intern will comply with all aspects and components of the Crossroads internship program.
  • Churches without any prior relationship: Interns fill out the Crossroads application, interview with potential ministry locations, and are placed in a ministry internship setting based on the best fit for the church and intern. In this case, the host church is required to provide housing.

Cole Seminary Internships and Discovery Seminary Internships are offered to those who have at least one full-time seminary semester remaining.


A mentor is a person who can support, advise and guide you. They typically take the time to get to know you and the challenges you're facing and then use their understanding and personal experience to help guide you on your journey. Contact the Center for Leadership Excellence for more information about mentoring.


A coach partners with and helps you achieve your goals. Coaches use a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires clients to maximize their personal and professional potential. The Missouri Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church offers a list of endorsed coaches as well as resources related to coaching.

Pastoral Transitions

The United Methodist system of itinerant ministry roots itself in John Wesley’s vision of spreading scriptural holiness across the land, utilizing both clergy and laity in the fulfillment of this mission. This means we are a sent system of clergy deployment. God calls ministers to enter United Methodist ministry and sends them from then on. In the Missouri Annual Conference, we practice missional appointment-making. The Bishop and the Cabinet work to place pastors with the gifts and graces to serve a particular community for a particular season of time. We believe that even through a pastoral leadership change, local churches can grow. Whether expected or unexpected, every pastoral transition affords us the opportunity to pass the baton and participate in a successful handoff of leadership responsibilities while deepening our focus on the mission of the Church.

The Missouri Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church provides a variety of resources for both pastors and local church laity leadership in transition.

Right Start

Right Start is an annual event, usually scheduled for late April, to equip pastors on-the-move. Right Start seeks to help pastors make a successful exchange of the baton in the “change-over zone,” ensure pastors receive information they need on practical matters including pension, health insurance, and conference moving policy, convey the importance of clergy ethics in the transition process, and prepare pastors to take the baton in a new appointment.

Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is a ministry of intentional holy listening, providing space for reflection with another to hear/see the work of God in your midst. Spiritual direction is an intentional relationship and process of discernment. The intent of spiritual direction is to deepen our connection with the Sacred Mystery, to develop a heightened awareness of God’s presence and to grow in faith. An image of spiritual direction is three chairs with the directee, spiritual director and God sitting together in conversation.

The Missouri Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church offers a list of endorsed spiritual directors as well as regular spiritual formation events.

Center for Leadership Excellence

Mark Statler

Director of the Center for Leadership Excellence

Jenny Gragg

Executive Assistant
(573) 777-1213

Trudy McManus

Clergy Relations & Benefits Administrator
(573) 777-1211

Morgan Scott

Lay Ministry Admin

Brian Valentine

Recruitment Specialist

Headshots by Schaefer Photography