The lifetime job guarantee for United Methodist elders is a promise the church can no longer keep, according to a study group.
“Guaranteed appointments” are a major factor contributing to mediocrity and ineffectiveness and emphasize the needs of the ministers rather than the mission of the church, declared the interim report of the denomination’s Commission to Study the Ministry: 2008-2012.
The report, presented to the United Methodist Council of Bishops at its recent spring meeting, recommends doing away with guaranteed jobs for elders in good standing, while retaining the ability of bishops to move clergy to different assignments and churches.
The commission will not release its final report for the 2012 General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, until next year. But issues it is now addressing include how the denomination can drop clergy job guarantees while offering protections for women and minority clergy and care for older elders who may lose their jobs.
“The issue is the church now is facing the challenge of having a huge responsibility for people whether there is a place for them or not,” Bishop Alfred Gwinn Jr., commission chair, said in an interview.
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