>URCNA Synod-16, Emeritation of Ministers

>The September 15, 2010 issue of Christian Renewal carried my final report about the actions of the URCNA’s Synod London 2010. This report deals with the appointment of a committee to study ministers’ retirement. I’m numbering this post to follow the last Synod report I posted on August 9.

URCNA Synod London 2010:
Committee to study Emeritation of Ministers

by Glenda Mathes

In addition to forming a study committee on missions, Synod London 2010 established a study committee regarding the emeritation (or retirement) of ministers.

The study committee was appointed in response to an overture from Classis Southern Ontario. That overture requested changes to Article 10 of the Church Order, which requires each church to provide adequately for its minister and family and to contribute toward his retirement needs.

The overture suggested one wording change and an addition. The proposed amendment was in a sentence stating that these men should retain the title and dignity of their office and suggested changing Those who have retired from active ministry to Ministers Emeritus. The additional sentences were: The emeritation of a minister shall take place with the approval of his Consistory and with the concurring advice of Classis. The ministerial credentials of a minister emeritus will ordinarily remain with the church which granted his emeritation.

Grounds for the overture explained that the Church Order does not currently address the matter of ministerial credentials relating to emeritus ministers. The overture additionally argued that Classis ought to be involved in the process and that a standard procedure that would avoid confusion within the federation, particularly in cases of Article 11 dissolutions or geographical moves.

The advisory committee’s initial recommendation was determined to constitute a substantial change to the overture, and the matter was recommitted to the advisory committee.

The advisory committee later presented a recommendation that an ad hoc committee be formed to study and report on the emeritation of ministers. The suggested study committee’s mandate consisted of seven parts: the status of ministerial credentials, the status of membership upon emeritation, the roles of Consistory, Classis, and Synod, the financial support of emeriti ministers, the bearing on these matters of a potential Article 11 dissolution or a geographical move, review of previous synodical decisions and the Church Order, and how all these matter related to each other.

Synod approved the formation of the committee with that seven-fold mandate. Synod then approved the following as members of the committee: Rev. Harold Miller (chairman), Elder Mark Van Der Molen, Rev. Hank Van der Woerd, Rev. Joel Dykstra, Elder Art Miedema, and Rev. Dennis Royall.

Rev. Miller notes that although the URCNA federation currently has a “preponderance of younger ministers,” it also has a “fair number of men nearing the age of emeritation.”

“Eventually we could have a significant number of men nearing that milestone,” he says, “and it will be helpful to know soon what are the parameters of the shared responsibilities for such a change for the particular man, his family, and his congregation.”

“It should be noted,” he adds, “that this line of questioning does not necessarily imply that the URCNA is considering the implementation of a federation directed ‘retirement system.’ Since this ground is already significantly covered in Article 10 of the Church Order substantive change to our current system would likely have to be suggested from a discovery in the realm of principal rather than a pragmatic concern.”
A budget was not set for the committee since it is anticipated that most of its work can be conducted via telephone and email. The committee is to report to Synod 2012.

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