Nov 15, 2023

Local Pastor Licensing School registration will be from December 1 to January 15.
Click here to register.

Eastern PA’s fully online 2024 Local Pastor Licensing School will begin in February, led by its new Dean, the Rev. John Bletsch. Registration will open December 1 and close January 15. The school session will start February 2 and conclude March 23. The cost will be $500, which is significantly lower than last year’s fee.

The Local Pastor Licensing School is a foundational learning experience for preparation to become an appointed Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey. Students engage in facilitated learning on topics such as worship, preaching, small groups, mission, evangelism, stewardship, theology, pastoral care, administration and more. A student’s preparation, attendance, classroom participation, performance and assignments are all vital in the process.

A candidate for ministry must be approved by their District Committee on Ministry or recommended by their District Superintendent to attend Local Pastor Licensing School. Candidates for ministry who have completed seminary may also be recommended to attend Local Pastors Licensing School.

Bletsch is working with the Rev. Juel Nelson, Director of Leadership Development of Greater New Jersey, to create a Leadership Academy model where both EPA&GNJ licensing schools are available to candidates at alternative times during the year.

The Rev. John Bletsch

Bletsch serves on the EPA Board of Ordained Ministry and Connectional Table and chairs EPA’s Communications Committee. The pastor of St. Matthew’s UMC of Valley Forge, he is a lifelong United Methodist originally from Youngstown, Ohio. He received God’s call to ministry at age 16 at a United Methodist youth camp and later earned his Master of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity School.  

Bletsch served churches in North Carolina, including a six-point charge in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and went on to serve churches in the Western North Carolina Conference for 20 years. When his wife Rhonda accepted a faculty position at Eastern University in 2014, the family, including three sons, moved to Eastern PA, where John became the pastor of first Otterbein UMC in Mont Clare and then St. Matthew’s. Rhonda now chairs Eastern’s Theology Department and is a Hebrew Bible scholar and author of a textbook on the Old Testament and numerous articles on the Bible and film.  

“Pastor John,” who also teaches at Eastern, believes “that our United Methodist heritage is one of the best ways to walk the path of discipleship as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He loves teaching the Bible, as well as running, cycling, and cooking, among other interests that he shares with his three sons: video games, comic books, superheroes, and science fiction.

Read from UM News, “Trending Local: The Growing Role of Local Pastors.”