|Assembly sets guidelines on clergy effectiveness|
A petition dealing with clergy effectiveness and annual
appointments are among measures considered by the 2008 United Methodist
Conference. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
By Linda Green*
May 16, 2008 | FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS)
Delegates to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference approved a
petition dealing with clergy effectiveness and continuing availability
for annual appointment, and also outlined conditions under which a
pastor's appointment may be terminated.
The petition was one of many measures approved April 30 on the General
Conference’s consent calendar. The denomination’s top lawmaking body,
which meets every four years, gathered April 23-May 2 at the Fort Worth
The delegates, following the recommendations of the ministry and higher
education legislative committee, voted 696-24 to amend and approve a
petition related to Paragraph 334 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline to give bishops procedures for corrective action or terminating an ineffective pastor’s appointment.
The Book of Discipline specifies responsibilities that an
elder in The United Methodist Church must fulfill. Those
responsibilities, outlined in Paragraph 340, are derived from authority
given by ordination, according to the book. Elders are responsible for
the "ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service" within the church
and serve in the church and the world.
The delegates voted on the process for a continued annual appointment
and what would occur if an elder does not fulfill his or her
responsibilities. The basis for an elder's continued eligibility for
appointment includes availability; annual participation in an evaluation
process with a pastor-parish relations committee or comparable
authority; annual evaluation with a district superintendent; evidence of
continuing effectiveness reflected in annual evaluations by the
pastor-parish relations committee, the district superintendent or
comparable authority; professional growth through continuing education
and formation; and willingness to supervise or mentor.
The delegates gave bishops an evaluative process to complete when an
elder's effectiveness is being considered. The approved petition allows
bishops to identify the concern, engage in conversations with the elder,
design a corrective plan of action, and set a realistic expectation of
After evaluation, if an elder has not increased competency or
effectiveness as defined by the conference board of ordained ministry or
cabinet "and/or does not accept the appointment determined by the
bishop, then an appointment may be forfeited and the provisions of
Paragraph 362 (of the Book of Discipline) may be invoked."
Paragraph 362 deals with complaint procedures, the supervisory response and due process, and remedial action.
The delegates rejected petitions requesting that bishops appoint a
pastor to less than full-time service. The petition involving clergy
evaluations would have allowed a district superintendent to initiate
changing a pastor's conference relationship if three evaluations found
the pastor to be ineffective and not likely to become effective through
training and counseling.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delegates reject petitions aimed at ineffective clergy
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General Conference 2008
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry