PASTORAL MINISTRY HANDBOOK | CHAPTER 11
The following statements identify the basic philosophy used by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, to make pastoral appointments.
1. Pastors are Stationed, Not Called
In the United Brethren church, authority for pastoral assignments rests solely with the stationing committee. The final decision regarding a pastoral assignment does not belong to the local church or any of its leadership groups.
2. The Assignment Process Involves Dialogue
The stationing committee will communicate with the pastors and congregations involved in the assignment process and will use all information received as a part of the decision-making process. Both pastor and Personnel Relations Team are granted the right to consult with the stationing committee.
3. The Goal is a Long-term Assignment
Because long-term assignments provide a better opportunity for qualitative and quantitative growth, the stationing committee will try to match congregational needs with pastoral strengths.
4. There are No Guaranteed Appointments
Since the goal of the stationing committee is to match congregational needs and pastoral strengths, individual ministers may experience periods of time when they are not assigned to a local church. Likewise, local churches may experience periods of time when they are without an assigned pastor.
5. Interim Ministers may be Used
The process of assigning pastors requires a thoroughness which often results in a temporary vacancy at a local congregation. In such instances, the local churches may be assigned an interim minister to provide limited pastoral ministry until a permanent assignment can be made.
The Assignment Process
Assigning ministers consists of the following steps.
1. A Vacancy Occurs
This vacancy may result from a pastoral resignation, death or other incapacitation, or it may be initiated by the denomination. The local church may ask the stationing committee to review its pastoral assignment, but no local church leadership group has the authority to terminate a pastor’s employment.
2. Formation of a Stationing Committee
Once a vacancy has occurred, the bishop will form a stationing committee to process this assignment. The stationing committee will consist of:
a. The bishop or designee as chairperson.
b. The local church’s cluster leader.
c. The chairperson of the local church’s Personnel Relations Team.
d. Other persons as determined appropriate by the bishop.
3. Meeting with Local Leaders
When a vacancy has occurred, a representative of the stationing committee shall meet with the leaders of the local church to explain the assignment process and evaluate the needs and vision of the congregation.
4. Completion of a Parish Profile
Each congregation will complete a “Parish Profile,” using the form prepared for this purpose. Responsibility for this rests with the local church.
5. Communication with the Prospective Pastor
a. After receiving the completed “Parish Profile,” the stationing committee will approach its choice to fill the vacancy.
b. The prospective pastor will receive a copy of the parish profile and be asked to consider the assignment.
c. If the prospective pastor declines the assignment, another prospective pastor will be approached.
d. When a pastor has indicated interest, the Personnel Relations Commission of the church where he/she is serving will be notified of the potential transition.
6. Communication with the Local Church
a. When a prospective pastor has expressed interest in filling the vacancy, he/she will prepare a pastor’s profile which provides biographical information and a philosophy of ministry.
b. This document will be presented to the leaders of the local church for review.
c. The team will conduct an initial interview with the candidate.
d. If the information seems satisfactory, a pastoral interview with the Personnel Relations Team and the stationing committee will be held in the process toward assignment.
e. If the pastor is currently serving at another United Brethren congregation, he/she must also notify the chairman of the Personnel Relations Team at the current church.
f. The candidate may speak on a Sunday at the church.
g. An “Agreement of Understanding” will be completed to document the understandings reached.
8. Assignment is Announced
At the earliest possible time following this introductory meeting between the new pastor and local leaders, the assignment will be announced. The pastor will be given ample time to inform his/her present church of the new assignment.
Assignment of Associate Staff Members
The Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, recognizes the need for multi-pastor congregations to create staff relationships which meet their special interpersonal and directional needs. As such, within the framework of the stationing committee process, the denomination grants these congregations the right to request and receive resumes, interview candidates, and designate the person they deem best for associate staff positions, with the following understandings:
1. The final decision for employing and terminating associate staff members rests solely with the local church.
2. The bishop must be informed of any United Brethren ministers under consideration.
3. If a church hires someone who does not hold a United Brethren ministerial license, the national conference is not obligated to provide licensing.
4. While the primary accountability relationship rests with the senior pastor, ministers licensed by the national conference are required to participate in all annual reporting and accountability processes within the national conference.
Special Appointment Assignments
Stationing committees may appoint national conference ministers and elders to special appointment assignments, such as chaplains, missionaries, and general officials. These appointments are made on the request of the minister or elder called to such service.
Temporary Assignment of Non-United Brethren Ministers
Ordained or licensed clergy in other Christian denominations or independent churches may be appointed to serve as supply pastors at United Brethren churches under the following requirements:
a. Such ministers must be in good standing in the church or denomination in which they are licensed.
b. Such ministers must provide valid ministerial credentials.
c. Such ministers shall be examined by the regional Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team to determine matters of personal integrity, commitment to the Christian faith, ministerial call, relationships with others, spiritual maturity, and understanding of and agreement with the doctrinal distinctives, history, and polity of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.
d. A positive recommendation must be made by a stationing committee and the Ministerial Licensing and Ordination Team.
e. Such ministers shall not be granted a vote in the national conference or in national conference elections, including any referenda.
Such ministers will file an annual report with the bishop and cluster leader.
Such ministers will be required to participate in and be accountable to a cluster.