Petition 81364

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Pastoral Discernment (81364-LC-¶200)

Add a new ¶218 and renumber the following paragraphs:
¶ 218.  Pastoral Discernment—The pastor in charge shall have the responsibility to discern a person’s understanding of the vows of membership and his/her readiness to assume those vows.  Readiness includes the person’s willingness to comply with the covenant requirements of membership as enumerated by the membership vows (¶217).  If the pastor decides to postpone receiving a person into professing membership of the local church, the pastor shall continue to care for, instruct, and nurture the person toward understanding and readiness to assume the membership vows.  The responsibility of discernment shall apply to all youth and adults to be received by profession of faith or by transfer from other denominations or from other congregations of The United Methodist Church.  Any decision to postpone receiving a person into professing membership of the local church shall not be based on the person’s race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition (¶ 4).  The pastor’s decision to postpone receiving a person into professing membership may be overruled by a two-thirds vote of the church council.

Rationale

Historically, the pastor has prepared persons for the vows of membership and discerned their readiness to assume them.  Readiness includes willingness to assume the responsibilities of church membership.  The pastor (subject to an appeal) is best able to protect the congregants from persons who could harm them or undermine the...