Appointing Clergy

Many Methodists would argue their own appointments process is complicated enough. Attempts to coordinate with the appointments of ministers from other denominations can be complex and likely to be frustrating. It is difficult to generalise because, for example within the Church of England, patterns for appointing clergy vary from diocese to diocese.

Where ecumenical consultation is necessary, it is best to be on the front foot rather than trying to recover lost ground. Be ready for extra factors such as different terminology and timetables, in addition to the more familiar complexities of a candidate's suitability and availability.

Generally

The formal procedures locally for appointing ministers to Methodist circuits, including meetings and the preparation of a circuit profile, provide an opportunity for consulting ecumenically over all appointments. Superintendents can be encouraged to do this.

The Anglican/Methodist Covenant adds a further need for such consultation. In addition to local input, you can set up procedures for consultation with the appropriate bishop of the Church of England diocese.

The 2011 Conference adopted a recommendation that proposed it be made possible for those granted the status of associate presbyter and deacon to be authorised to serve as Associate Superintendents or Chairs of District. As Associate Superintendents and Associate Chairs they would not have responsibility for or control over Methodist resources or governance bodies, which would remain autonomous. However they would be able to co-discern, co-decide and co-deploy the resources of their own Church and cofulfil their own responsibilities together with the Methodist Superintendent and Chair.

LEP Appointments

The appointment of ministers to LEP situations requires an extra element of consultation, often through the specially set up local staffing consultative committee, or some other agreed channel. The county ecumenical officer can suggest the best way forward.

If a Methodist is appointed to a LEP it should be made clear through a district announcement, with copies going to extra people such as ecumenical officers, Partner Church leaders/representatives (with the request that they circulate it through their own channels), and the secretary of the county sponsoring body. The LEP might also be encouraged to announce the appointment to all in its ecumenical network. A useful catch-all phrase in the copy for the various ecumenical partners is 'for copying on as appropriate'.

If the appointment is not Methodist, the new minister may need to be designated as Authorised to Serve (SO 733) or Associate Minister (SO 733A). Guidelines and application forms are available on this site.

The Service

In LEP situations especially Single Congregation LEPs (Category 1), but also Category 2 where there is a covenanted partnership between local churches, the Institution or Licensing Service needs special attention. Where the appointed minister is Methodist, it is important to ensure the usual administrative process recognises the LEP dimension.

The Order of Service can properly include material from the worship provision of participating Churches, and participation by their representatives. It is important to be clear who is handling these points of detail.

Further advice is available from the Group for Local Unity Churches Together in England. (tel 020 7529 8141).

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