Note on GC Legislation Regarding Clergy Appointments
On May 1, 2012, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church passed important legislation regarding security of appointment for Elders. More information regarding this and other legislation will be shared following General Conference. For your convenience, the newly amended text of Paragraph 337 and the new paragraph to follow Paragraph 353 of the Book of Discipline appears below. The following links will take you to the detailed legislation and amendments for petitions 20303 and 20308:
¶ 337. General Provisions—
1. Ordained elders and persons who have been granted a license for pastoral ministry and who have been approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection may be appointed to local churches. All clergy members and licensed local pastors to be appointed shall assume a lifestyle consistent with Christian teaching as set forth in the Social Principles.
2. Elders and deacons, associate members, probationary members, and persons licensed for pastoral ministry may be appointed to ministry settings that extend the ministry of The United Methodist Church and the witness and service of Christ’s love and justice in the world. They shall be given the same moral and spiritual support by the annual conference as are persons in appointments to pastoral charges. Their effectiveness shall be evaluated in the context of the specific setting in which their ministry is performed. Such ministry settings shall include teaching, pastoral care and counseling, chaplaincy, campus ministry, social services, and other ministries so recognized by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry and approved by the bishop.
a) Full connection and probationary elders, associate members, and persons licensed for pastoral ministry may be appointed to Extension Ministries serving in ministries of pastoral care in specialized settings. See ¶¶ 326, 343-344 for specific information about Extension Ministries.
b) Deacons in probationary membership and full connection may be appointed to appointments beyond the local church that extend the witness and service of Christ’s love and justice in a ministry to both the community and the church. This ministry connects community and church and equips all Christians to fulfill their own calls to Christian service. See ¶¶ 326, 328, 329, 331 for specific information about these ministries.
c) All persons in such appointments shall: 1) Be appointed to a setting that provides an appropriate support and accountability structure; 2) Continue to be accountable to the annual conference for the practice of their ministry; 3) Provide an annual report, including a narrative of their ministry, evidence of continuing education, and evidence of an annual evaluation in their setting; 4) Maintain a relationship with a charge conference.
c) All persons in such appointments shall:
1) Be appointed to a setting that provides an appropriate support and accountability structure;
2) Continue to be accountable to the annual conference for the practice of their ministry;
3) Provide an annual report, including a narrative of their ministry, evidence of continuing education, and evidence of an annual evaluation in their setting;
4) Maintain a relationship with a charge conference.
3. In the case that an elder or associate member in good standing is not continued under appointment one of the following steps shall be taken:
a) If the elder is not continued because a missional appointment is not available, then the bishop shall recommend the elder to the Board of Ordained Ministry for transitional leave (¶XXX).
b) If the elder is not continued because of ineffectiveness then the bishop shall initiate a complaint according to the processes in ¶361 at least 90 days prior to the annual conference.
4. a. Each annual conference shall quadrennially name a task force consisting of: four members named by the Conference Lay Leader; at least two clergy members from the Board of Ordained Ministry nominated by the Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and elected by the clergy session; a superintendent named by the Bishop; and the Bishop. The task force shall meet annually to develop a list of criteria to guide the Cabinet and Bishop as they make missional appointments.
b. The Cabinet shall report the following information annually to the Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee: 1) those elders, provisional elders and associate members who have not received a full-time missional appointment and the rationale; 2) those elders, provisional elders and associate members who have not received an appointment for reasons of ineffectiveness and the steps which have been taken in the complaint process; 3) statistics by age, ethnicity and gender of elders who have not received a full-time missional appointment; and 4) learnings that have been gleaned as appointment-making is carried out in a new way. This data will also become a part of the agenda of the Committee on the Episcopacy at the conference and jurisdictional levels. This data will also become part of the evaluation of bishops by the Committee on the Episcopacy at the conference and jurisdictional levels.
Section XIV. Changes of Conference Relationship
¶353 Provision for Change in Conference Relationship—When a change in conference relationship is deemed necessary or desirable by a provisional or associate member, clergy in full connection, district superintendent or bishop, whether for short or long term, the person(s) requresting the change shall make written request to their Board of Ordained Ministry stating the reasons for the requested change of relationship. In addition, the Board of Ordained Ministry may request personal interviews with the provisional or associate members and members in full connection named in the requested change, except where personal appearance results in undue hardship. Clergy appointed to a general agency of the The United Methodist Church shall be covered by the policies of the agency in relation to family leave, maternity or paternity leave, and incapacity leave.
The following new paragraph will be inserted:
Transitional Leave – 1. In order for the church to be missional in its focus, and flexible in appointment making, associate, provisional, and members in full connection may move into the status of transitional leave for up to 24 months during a period of time that they are between appointments. A request to the Board of Ordained Ministry for transitional leave may come from a clergy person or a bishop and cabinet whenever it is clear that appointive service will be interrupted. The request must come at least 90 days prior to the annual conference session. Transitional leave requests require the approval of the bishop and cabinet and the annual conference board of ordained ministry and shall include a plan, developed by the clergy person and the cabinet, for future service to the church, appointive or otherwise.
The bishop and cabinet shall give to the clergy member and the Board of Ordained Ministry in writing specific reasons for the request. The clergy person has the right to an interview with the Conference Relations Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry and may choose a clergy person in full connection from the Annual Conference to accompany him or her to the interview with the right of voice. This leave is subject to the approval of the clergy session of members in full connection with the annual conference.
A transitional leave of absence may be granted for the following reasons:
(1) An associate member, provisional or full connection elder is not appointed.
(2) A provisional or full member deacon needs to seek and secure an appointable primary position—compensated or nonsalaried.
(3) A provisional member, associate member, or full member elder needs to transition from an extension ministry to another appointment.
2. Between sessions of the annual conference, transitional leave of absence may be granted or terminated for a deacon, with the approval of the bishop and district superintendents, by the executive committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry. 40 This interim action shall be subject to the approval of the clergy session of members in full connection with the annual conference at its next session.
3. Should there be active complaints or charges, a request for transitional leave of absence shall not be permitted until those complaints or charges have been resolved. At the resolution of completion of an administrative or judicial complaint process, a clergy respondent may be placed on transitional leave if the process has taken at least 90 days following initial notification of the complaint to the respondent.
4. Clergy on transitional leave of absence shall have no claim on the conference funds. Notwithstanding the foregoing, where the conference has made certain elections under applicable benefit plans that require continued participation by clergy on voluntary leaves of absence, the clergy shall continue to participate in such plans. They may participate in the conference health program through their own contributions, if applicable.
5. Clergypersons on transitional leave shall be eligible for membership on annual conference committees, commissions, or boards. They may vote for other clergy delegates to general or jurisdictional conferences and may be elected to serve as delegates themselves.
6. After consultation and with the written consent of the pastor in charge, and with the approval of the district superintendent and the staff-parish relations committee of a local church, clergy members shall designate a charge conference within the bounds of the annual conference to which they shall relate and submit an annual report. They shall report all marriages performed, baptisms administered, funerals conducted and other ministerial activities to the charge conference, pastor in charge, and Board of Ordained Ministry. The exercise of this ministry shall be limited to the charge conference to which they relate and with the written permission of the pastor in charge unless special permission is granted by the bishop of the conference where membership is held. With the permission of the bishop of the conference where membership is held, under the supervision of the district superintendent, the clergy member may preach, teach, perform marriages, and, if holding sacramental privileges, administer the sacraments outside of the charge where membership is held.
7. Those on transitional leave of absence shall be held amenable to the annual conference for their conduct and the performance of their ministry. In case of failure to report to the Board of Ordained Ministry, the complaint procedures may be invoked (¶ 361).
8. Clergy members on transitional leave of absence may, with the permission of the bishop and with the approval of the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, continue to hold an existing reserve commission as an armed forces chaplain, but may not voluntarily serve on extended active duty.
9. The transitional leave shall NOT be counted as a part of the eight year limit for provisional members (paragraph 327).