The New Discipline: Clergy Membership

January 17, 2020 | GNJ News

Dear GNJ Leadership,

Seventeen laity and clergy continue to work on finalizing a new Book of Discipline called The Connection, The Life and Order of The United Methodist Church to be presented to the 2020 General Conference.  As leaders of this team, we are grateful for their service and for the feedback and prayers we have received from people across GNJ and beyond.

Today we release the clergy section of The Connection.  In the clergy section, we seek to clarify, simplify and align all that we do with what we believe and practice – doctrine, mission and the Wesleyan Path. There are several important items to consider prior to reading the clergy section.

  1. We seek to align the leadership of the church so that all leaders, lay, clergy and episcopal, have the same seven core responsibilities.
  2. We have outlined the six steps for becoming a clergy person which are simple and clear.
  3. We eliminate provisional membership which we believe does not need a formal step in the process.
  4. We have created four clergy statuses:
    a. Itinerant clergy – those who move from appointment to appointment as appointed by the bishop.
    b. Non-itinerant clergy – those who find their own ministry position and are appointed by the bishop to extension ministry. In The Connection, there is no distinction between deacons or elders, all are full members with the same rights and privileges except one has agreed to itinerate from church to church appointment and the other has chosen to serve in extension ministry and find a ministry position.
    c. Retired clergy – those who choose to retire from ministry.
    d. Clergy on leave of absence – those who choose to be on leave of absence for personal or professional reasons – care for self and family, maternity and paternity leave, time to explore a different career, time away from ministry.
  5. We separate clergy membership from appointment/employment.  Presently clergy membership is tied to employment. In The Connection, clergy membership is the responsibility of the clergy and clergy credentialing is the responsibility of the church. In this most recent release of The Connection you will read how both membership and credentialing will be accomplished.

You may find the clergy section to The Connection by selecting this link.

Some have asked about providing input. We welcome your input. Currently, The Connection is a draft. It will be further shaped and improved by your input. You can participate in this process in the following ways:

  1. Small group workshops where you will have an opportunity to ask questions and work to further shape the document. These workshops will take place regionally on January 16, 17 and 25.  You can register for a workshop here.  You will be asked to indicate your preference on the section of The Connection you are most interested in workshopping.
  2. An online feedback process will be available from January 18 and 25. You will receive more information about how to provide online feedback.
  3. An online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) will be available on January 8 when the full document is released. Your questions will help develop the FAQ.

The team asks for your continued prayers. This has been a spiritual process and a labor of love by the team members working on The Connection. It is offered as a gift to you and our denomination.

In Christ’s Love,

Bethany Amey-Sutton, Chairperson, GNJ Delegation; Drew Dyson, Co-Chairperson, GNJ Delegation; Myrna Bethke, Dean of the Cabinet; Kay Dubuisson, Chairperson, Connectional Table