For my less nerdy (but no less Methodist friends): HEY THIS IS IMPORTANT

Below is the text of an ammendment that passed by consent (wasn’t debated) at General Conference this morning.  Effectively it deeply changes how we treat our ordained clergy (elders).  The argument was, while they had a process for removing ineffective pastors, most conferences were loath to use it or could not use it well.  This (techenically these) ammendments take that process from being a punative, to being standard.

Great efforts have been made across studies, sub-committees, and legislative committees to ensure that removal cannot be arbitrary, that effectiveness is a clearly defined measure, and that clergy who are not appointed have recourse.  There are still many concerns about the impact this will have on women and minorities, as well as on clergy’s ability to speak profetically.  Whether the church will be better or worse for this we may not know for some time, but it will be different.

It will require us to practice the belief we profess, to really and truely hold one another in care, to constantly check that our measures are God’s measures (rather than capitolisms) and to actively and continually discern beyond what we want to where God is leading us and our leaders.  It will mean we as lay people MUST embrace that we are all in ministry, not just our church staff’s.  We can no longer afford to be bystanders in our polity, or to place our own whims above what is best for the church.  We may even be called to defend our clergy brothers and sisters when their righteous callings interfer with someone else’s agenda.

We, along with the bishops, have been given an enormous trust today.  As people of God, we must rise to fulfill it. We must also hold our clergy in care these next few days.  Some of them will celebrate, but some will also grieve this change.  Their world was dramatically altered with little more than a whisper from the General Conference.  Please pray for them.  Please encourage them.  And always remind them of the gifts and graces you see in them.

Our covenant is fundementally differant now. It will require more love, more trust, and more understanding.  But things things have always been required of us.  May this, and everything else General Conference discerns, be to God’s glory.

Addistions to Book of Discipline paragraph 337

337.4a: “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.

337.4b: “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.”

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