Petition 81082

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Local Pastor Appeals (81082-MH-¶320.1)

Amend ¶320.1 Discontinuance and Reinstatement of Certified Candidacy
¶320. Exiting, Reinstatement, and Retirement of Local Pastors Who Are Not Probationary Members  
1. Discontinuance of Local Pastor--Whenever a local pastor retires or is no longer approved for appointment by the annual conference as required in ¶318, whenever any local pastor severs relationship with The United Methodist Church, whenever the appointment of a local pastor is discontinued by the bishop, or whenever the district committee on ordained ministry does not recommend continuation of license, license and credentials shall be surrendered to the district superintendent for deposit with the secretary of the conference. After consultation with the pastor, the former local pastor shall designate the local church in which membership  shall be held.  The board of ordained ministry shall file with the resident bishop a permanent record of the circumstances relating to the discontinuance of local pastor status as required in 634.3d .  the following procedure shall be followed.
a. Should a local pastor be dismissed, the dismissing authority shall provide to the local pastor in writing the grounds for the discontinuance, citing prior signed agreements or specifics of time, place, and events alleged to have taken place, that are the grounds for their consideration of discontinuance.  The local pastor shall have the right to request a hearing, with his/her mentor in attendance.  The mentor shall have voice but not vote unless a member of the hearing group.  Fair process rights (¶362.2) shall apply.  The hearing shall be held within thirty days unless the parties agree to an  extension.  Should the decision to discontinue be upheld by the hearing, the local pastor shall be informed in writing of the reason(s) for the decision and shall be suspended for no more than ninety days pending possible appeal.  
  
b. Appeal--Should the hearing (¶320 a) fail to reinstate the local pastor, the local pastor shall have ten days after notification to appeal either decision to the executive committee of the conference board of ordained ministry, who shall meet with the local pastor and his/her mentor in attendance within thirty days, unless the parties agree to an extension.  Fair process rights (&362.2) shall apply.  Both the substance of the specifics and of the procedural issues are subject to appeal.  Should the executive committee overturn the discontinuance, the local pastor shall be returned to the appointment from which he/she was discontinued.  Should the executive committee sustain the discontinuance, the local pastor may surrender his/her credentials, or may choose to remain under suspension pending an appeal to the annual conference clergy session, the body that voted the conference relationship, whose decision shall be final.
  When a final decision has been made to discontinue the license, the pastoral license and credentials shall be surrendered to the district superintendent for deposit with the secretary of the conference. After consultation with the pastor, the former local pastor shall designate the local church in which membership shall be held and the board of ordained ministry shall file with the resident bishop a permanent record of the circumstances relating to the discontinuance of local pastor status as required in ¶634.3d.

Rationale

Often Local Pastors have been discontinued or had their license withdrawn for reasons other than those mentioned in the Discipline or which were unclear to them.  Under the present Disciplinary rules any decision by Bishop or Committee is final.  A number of candidates have regarded their dismissal as unfair.  With...