SECTION A: PASTORAL SELECTION
¶241. The pastor shall be selected in keeping with the following regulations:
1. INITIAL CALL OF THE PASTOR: In calling a new pastor, a church may invite ministers approved by the Southern Methodist Church to be considered as possible pastoral candidates. The invitation may include personal contacts, preaching opportunities, or informal discussions. Southern Methodist ministers are afforded the same opportunities.
The formal process for calling a new pastor is as follows:
a. The church conference chairman shall call a church conference (see ¶231) with two weeks notice to consider one candidate chosen by the majority of the Board of Stewards.
b. The Board of Stewards will interview the candidate and negotiate a proposed pastoral contract in advance of the church conference, which may include a recommendation to the church conference concerning the length of tenure.
c. The church conference shall not be held prior to the first Sunday of May; however, a church without a pastor may consider, at any time during the church year, a candidate not presently serving a church.
d. The candidate must give permission for his name to be submitted to the church conference and may give permission to only one church at a time.
e. The church conference shall elect a candidate as their new pastor by a simple majority affirmative vote and shall notify the candidate the same day of the result of the vote.
f. If a candidate fails to receive a simple majority affirmative vote, other candidates may be considered one at a time, at a time designated by that church conference.
g. A candidate receiving a simple majority affirmative vote must notify the church of his intention within seventy-two hours after being notified of the result of the vote. In no case shall a minister consider a second church prior to informing the church of his decision.
2. VOTING PROCEDURE: All voting on the pastor’s relationship shall be by secret ballot without debate, except for tenure, which may be debated. (see ¶231)
3. TENURE: In the same conference in which the vote is taken on a pastor in which an affirmative vote has been received to call a new pastor or to continue the relationship with the present pastor, the church conference shall vote on the length of tenure. The length of tenure shall be a specific number of years. The tenure of the initial call of the pastor shall not exceed four years.
4. CONTINUED PASTOR RELATIONSHIP/END OF TENURE: On the fourth Sunday in April in the year of the end of his tenure a church conference shall be held for the purpose of voting on its continued relationship with the present pastor.
a. The Board of Stewards will present a proposed contract approved by the church conference to the pastor for discussion prior to the church conference.
b. The pastor must receive a simple majority affirmative vote in order to continue to serve as pastor of that church.
c. The church must notify the pastor of the result of the vote immediately following the conference.
d. A pastor receiving an affirmative vote must notify the church of his intention within seventy-two hours after being notified of the result of the vote. In no case shall a minister consider another church prior to informing the church of his decision.
After the pastor agrees to continue the relationship, he may not change his decision for the next pastoral year unless elected to a General Conference office.
5. CONTINUED PASTOR RELATIONSHIP /UNEXPIRED TENURE: A pastor whose tenure has not expired must be offered a contract proposal approved by the church conference for the next pastoral year no later than the third Sunday in April. After being offered a contract proposal, a pastor must announce his decision within seven days either to accept or to reject the contract. If a contract cannot be agreed to within seven days, the pastor and/or church may consider other options. After a pastor agrees to a contract, he may not change his decision for the next pastoral year unless elected to a General Conference office.
6. SPECIAL CALLED VOTE: To call for a vote on a pastor whose tenure has not expired, the church conference chairman must, in the month of March, receive a written petition by twenty percent of the active membership calling for a vote on the church-pastor relationship. If twenty percent so petitions, the church conference chairman shall call for a church conference to vote on continuing the relationship with two weeks notice given. In case of an affirmative simple majority vote, tenure shall continue as previously established.
7. PASTOR’S DESIRE TO TERMINATE TENURE: On the fourth Sunday in April, but not before, the pastor, if he has decided not to continue his present church-pastor relationship, shall notify the church of his desire to terminate at the close of the current pastoral year.
¶242. The duly elected Annual Conference delegates and pastor shall notify the Annual Board of Administration by means of the Church-Pastor Agreement the expressed will of the church and the pastor. The Board will be bound by the agreement of the church and the pastor.
¶243. Where no agreement has been reached, the Annual Conference Board of Administration will endeavor to effect an assignment agreeable to both church and pastor.
¶244. All assignments in pastoral relationships must be made at Annual Conference. The church/pastor relationship shall end with the last day of the month in which the Annual Conference is held and begin with the first day of the succeeding month. Moving dates shall be between the last Sunday of the month in which the Annual Conference is held and the first Sunday of the succeeding month. In the event a pulpit becomes vacant because of extenuating circumstances, the President shall have the authority to fill the pulpit.
SECTION B. PASTORAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY
¶246. The duties of a pastor who has charge of a mission, station, or circuit are as follows:
1. To preach the gospel; to celebrate the rite of matrimony, provided it does not conflict with civil laws; to administer baptism and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, with the understanding that no permanent powers of ordination are conferred until granted by the laying on of hands after he shall have met the disciplinary requirements; to control the appointment of all services held in the churches of his charge. Unordained pastors in charge shall have authority to celebrate the rite of matrimony only within their own pastoral charges, provided it does not conflict with civil laws.
2. To receive, try, and expel members, according to the provisions of the Discipline (¶¶726-744). 3. To appoint a day and on that day install publicly all elected officers of the church. The officers to be installed (Sunday School superintendents, stewards, etc.) may be brought before the chancel, briefly addressed by the pastor in charge, or by someone appointed by him for that purpose, touching the dignity and usefulness of an officer in the church of God, and commended to the church for sympathy and cooperation. In token of such willingness to help, the church members present may engage in covenant prayer to this end, the pastor leading.
4. To see that in every congregation all the ordinances and regulations of the church are duly observed, and that the General Rules are read at least once a year (¶¶116-120).
5. To serve as an ex officio member of all local church boards and committees.
6. To report to each Quarterly Local Conference (¶235.1a) the names of all who have been received into the church, and of all who have died, removed, withdrawn, or been excluded from it during the preceding quarter, and to give a statement of the general condition of his station, circuit or mission.
7. To meet with the leaders and stewards of his charge.
8. To keep a register for his charge in which shall be noted with the time and manner of reception and disposal of every person belonging to the church in his station, circuit or mission, and to report to the Annual Conference the number of lay ministers that may be under his charge at the time of its session. In charges containing more than one organized congregation, the names of the members shall be arranged under the name of the church or appointment to which they belong.
9. To keep a directory in which the residence of all the members shall be noted to facilitate pastoral visiting.
10. To furnish everyone removing from his charge a proper membership letter in keeping with the Discipline of The Southern Methodist Church (¶247).
11. To see that a permanent record of all the baptisms and marriages within the bounds of his charge is kept.
12. To leave his successor a particular account of his charge, including an account of the subscribers to our periodicals.
13. To give an account of his charge every quarter to the President.
14. To promote all the general interests of our church as the Discipline or the Annual Conference may designate and to report to the Conference the amount raised within the bounds of his charge for those interests during the year.
15. To see that all the people within the bounds of his charge are duly supplied with our books and periodicals.
16. To be, as elsewhere in all the work of the pastoral charge, the pastor in charge, and to be responsible for the educational program of the church.
17. To see that there is a church Board of Education and that it functions according to its duties listed in the Discipline (¶276).
18. To report to each session of the Annual Conference the number and state of Sunday Schools, including Sunday meetings, weekday meetings of children, Epworth League meetings, fellowship meetings, and Vacation Bible Schools.
19. To preach upon the subject of Christian Education, to urge upon parents the importance of educating their children, advising them to patronize, as far as practicable, those institutions under the care of our church. To preach upon the call to the ministry. To seek out young men who feel called to the ministry, and assign them such work as will develop their ability and test their fitness for this service. To report the names and addresses of all such candidates for the ministry to the Quarterly Church Conference and to The Annual Conference Board of Administration.
20. To see that College Day is observed at some appropriate time during the year, during which Southern Methodist College shall be suitably presented.
21. To preach once a year on the subject of the Bible and its circulation.
22. To preach frequently on missions and to see that a Missionary Committee is appointed (¶ 235.1f). He shall see that Missionary Day is observed in the church and Sunday School and that offerings are taken for the cause of missions, and that said offerings are designated, forwarded and reported. He shall conduct annually an intensive missionary cultivation for the development of the missionary spirit among the people.
23. To hold weekly prayer meetings where it is practicable, and when he cannot attend himself, let him engage others to hold them, and to provide for prayer meetings at other places where there is a probability of doing good.
24. To solemnize the rites of matrimony between one man and one woman; To keep the rule of our Church that prohibits such solemnizing between divorced persons, except in the case of innocent parties who have been divorced for Scriptural cause. We believe that marriage is clearly defined in the Word of God as a covenant between one man and one woman. Because the Bible states unequivocally that marriage between husband and wife is a parallel to the relationship of Christ and the Church, it is clearly contrary to God’s principles to place any other earthly relationship in equal standing as that of marriage. We do not recognize cohabitation between heterosexuals or homosexuals as a legitimate covenant equal to marriage, nor do we recognize civil unions or marriages between homosexuals. Ceremonies of civil union or marriage between homosexuals shall not take place in a Southern Methodist Church, and Southern Methodist pastors or laypersons shall not participate in or attend any such ceremony, regardless of geographic location. Gen. 2:18-25, Eph. 5:21-33, Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:18-32 25. To consult with the Board of Stewards or other appropriate committee before inviting persons who are not Southern Methodist to speak in the church.
¶247. In carrying out his responsibility with reference to the transfers of church membership as set forth in ¶246.10, the pastor may use the following: 1. A letter of transfer to the church requesting such should include the following information: ___________________ has been an acceptable member of the Southern Methodist Church in _______ station, (circuit or mission), _____________ Conference. Void after one year from this date. (Signed), Pastor
(When this letter is presented to another church an attached notice of acceptance similar to the following one should be made available for return. The person to whom this letter is issued shall remain a member of this church until such notice is dismissed.)
The letter of membership of __________ from the Southern Methodist Church in _________ is hereby acknowledged. He (or she) has been duly received as a member of this church, and hereby ceases to be a member of the church issuing said letter. (signed by) Pastor, (name of) Church, (current) Date. 2. A complete record of each transfer shall be kept with the following information: •Name •Date Issued •Date of acknowledgment of letter and actual transfer of membership •Name of pastor issuing letter •Name of pastor acknowledging letter
SECTION C: ASSISTANT PASTOR AND STAFF
¶249. The duties of an assistant pastor or staff member are to assist in the work of the station or circuit subject to the direction of the pastor.