Certification is a credential you earn by demonstrating compliance with standards for professional competence. To “be certified” is a professional acknowledgement that you have met nationally recognized standards for competence in lay ecclesial ministry.
Certification is one part of a robust process of authorizing lay ecclesial ministers for ministry in the church. Certification is designed only to assess and acknowledge the competence of lay ecclesial ministers for a specific ministerial role, and should not be confused with any form of authorization for ministry, which is the province of the local bishop.
It is important to note that certification is not the same as receiving a certificate. A certificate is a statement that a program or course of studies has been completed through attendance, participation or fulfillment of requirements.
Certification also differs from accreditation in that accreditation is a process whereby a duly constituted accrediting body gives recognition to education and/or service center programs which meet established standards. In short, people are certified if they demonstrate compliance with standards; programs/institutions are accredited if they meet standards.
In describing certification, the United States’ Bishops state:
“Ensuring the quality of pastoral care provided by lay ecclesial ministers requires a process for deciding that a given candidate has the education, formation, and professional skills necessary to serve in a particular role. This involves establishing the requirements for education, formation, and experience for specific ministerial roles and evaluating the extent to which individuals meet these requirements.” (Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, USCCB, 2005, p. 39)
© 2012. National Association for Lay Ministry on behalf of the Alliance for the Certification of Lay Ecclesial Ministers