Petitions to GC2020: Reinstatements

Here are another two petitions, dealing with the least-protected clergy people in our system: certified candidates and licensed local pastors. What happens when someone in this position is discontinued from the process, and then moves– especially given that the Spirit might call people *years* later, in different contexts and settings, and after great transformation? Sometimes, one logistically can’t go “home.”

 

Reinstatement of Certified Candidate Status

Motion: Amend ¶314.2 as follows:

  1. Reinstatement of Certified Candidate’s Status– Certified candidates whose status has been discontinued by a district committee on ordained ministry of an annual conference of The United Methodist Church may shall only be reinstated by the district committee of the district in which they were discontinued, or by another district upon transfer of the certified candidate’s file including all possible documentation of the circumstances relating to the discontinuance of certified candidate status.

[Retain rest of the paragraph as written]

Rationale: This amendment opens the possibility of reinstatement to individuals who have changed geographic location, or discerned a new context or calling, while retaining the recommendations and records related to prior discontinuance.

 

Reinstatement of Local Pastor Status

Motion: Amend ¶320.4 as follows:

  1. Reinstatement of Local Pastor Status– Local pastors whose approved status has been discontinued from an annual conference of The United Methodist Church or one of its legal predecessors may be reinstated only by the annual conference that previously approved them, its legal successor, or the annual conference of which the major portion of their former conference is a part, only upon recommendation by the district committee on ordained ministry from which their license was discontinued, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the cabinet. Persons seeking reinstatement shall provide evidence that they have been members of a local United Methodist church since the time of the discontinuance of their local pastor status, or for at least one year prior to their request for reinstatement. The district committee shall require a recommendation from the charge conference where these persons’ his or her membership is currently held. When approved by the clergy members in full connection as provided in ¶ 337, their license and credentials shall be restored, and they shall be eligible for appointment as pastors of a charge. They shall complete current studies and meet requirements as provided in ¶¶ 315, 318.
         Whenever persons whose local pastor status approval as local pastors has been discontinued by an annual conference are being considered for appointment or temporary employment in another annual conference, the Board of Ordained Ministry where these persons are being considered shall obtain from the Board of Ordained Ministry of the conference where local pastor status approval has been discontinued verification of their qualifications and information about the circumstances relating to the discontinuance of local pastor status termination of their approval as local pastors.

Rationale: This amendment makes the language more consistent with similar paragraphs of the Discipline, and resolves the apparent contradiction posed by the second paragraph, which allows for local pastor status to be reinstated by a different annual conference.

Petitions to GC2020: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination

This is legislation I plan to submit to General Conference, regarding candidacy, clergy status, and the medical forms. This legislation failed by ONE vote in 2016. The UMC may or may not look anything like the denomination we know come May 15, 2020, but if it does, I hope we stop asking candidates for their BMI, blood pressure, and results of pap smears or prostate exams. Let the doctors do that stuff.

Legislation Submitted to General Conference 2020: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination

Summary: Six paragraphs of the Book of Discipline ask a candidate for licensed/ordained ministry or one seeking transfer/reinstatement for a specific medical form. The form, however, discloses more information than a District Committee or Board of Ordained Ministry needs to have in order to make a determination about an individual’s fitness for ministry. This bundle of legislation addresses these paragraphs, changing the form to a letter of good health from a physician, which would include the necessary information without the risk of disclosing more confidential data. Furthermore, drawing on language already in the Discipline, these paragraphs will clarify and make consistent the UMC’s non-discrimination on the basis of disabilities or diagnoses that do not otherwise hinder a person’s ability to serve in the ministry to which they are applying.

 

I. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Licensed Ministry

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶315.6.c (License for Pastoral Ministry) as follows:

  1. c) Provided the board with a satisfactory letter from a physician stating the individual’s good health and listing any medical restrictions or modifications as applicable. Disabilities and diagnoses are not to be construed as unfavorable health factors when a person with a disability or diagnosis is capable of meeting the professional standards and is able to render effective service as one licensed for pastoral ministry. certificate of good health on a prescribed form from a physician approved by that board.

Rationale: Replaces the health form with a letter from a physician, eliminating the high potential for confidential information to be disclosed in violation of the candidate’s privacy. Adds that disabilities / diagnoses are not grounds for lack of fitness for ministry, making the policy consistent with that for provisional members.

II. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Provisional Membership 

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶324.8 (Provisional Membership) as follows:

  1. Each candidate shall present a satisfactory letter from a physician stating the individual’s good health and listing any medical restrictions or modifications as applicable. certificate of good health by a physician on the prescribed form. Disabilities and diagnoses are not to be construed as unfavorable health factors when a person with a disability or diagnosis is capable of meeting the professional standards and is able to render effective service as a provisional member.

Rationale: Replaces the detailed health form with a letter from a physician, eliminating the high potential for confidential information on the health form to be disclosed in violation of the candidate’s privacy. This also clarifies that both disabilities and diagnoses are not grounds for lack of fitness for ministry.

III. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Transfers

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶347.3.a (Transfers From Other Denominations) as follows:

  1. From Other Denominations – a) On recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the clergy members in full connection may recognize the orders of ordained clergy from other denominations and receive them as provisional members or local pastors. They shall present their credentials for examination by the bishop and Board of Ordained Ministry and give assurance of their Christian faith and experience. They shall give evidence of their agreement with and willingness to support and maintain United Methodist doctrine, discipline, and polity and present a satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

[Retain the rest of the paragraph as written.]

Rationale: Replaces the health form with a letter from a physician, eliminating the high potential for confidential information to be disclosed in violation of the individual’s privacy. Refers back to disability / diagnosis non-discrimination for those seeking provisional membership, making the policy more consistent.

IV. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Retirement Reinstatement 

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶357.7.2 (Return to Effective Relationship [from Retirement]) as follows:

(2) a satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

[Retain the rest of the paragraph as written.]

Rationale:  (same as petition III)

V. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Honorable or Administrative Location

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶365.3 (Readmission after Honorable or Administrative Location) as follows:

  1. A satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry. The Board of Ordained Ministry shall require psychological evaluation.

Rationale:  (same as petition III)

VI. Title: Reduce Inappropriate Medical Disclosure and Discrimination – Involuntary Retirement

Motion: Amend the Book of Discipline ¶368.5 (Readmission after Involuntary Retirement) as follows:

  1. Presentation of satisfactory letter from a physician, as described in ¶324.8. certificate of good health on the prescribed form from a physician approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

[Retain the rest of the paragraph as written.]

Rationale:  (same as petition III)

Petition to GC2020: Trust Clause in the case of Successor Entities

I’m working on some legislation, and would love the input from other minds! Comments? Suggestions? (Im)Perfections?

 

Motion: Amend ¶2501.1 by adding a new paragraph following the first paragraph (which currently ends “from their connection with the entire worldwide Church.”)

This trust requirement must be maintained by The United Methodist Church and its successor denominations, institutions, and entities. In the event that an incorporated conference, agency, or organization of the denomination withdraws from or is removed from the denomination, that entity and its successor will retain responsibility to hold and administer the real and personal, tangible, and intangible property held or administered prior to withdrawal.

Rationale: The Trust Clause is an essential element of the polity of The UMC, but does not anticipate or account for successor movements or denominations, which may arise as the Spirit moves the church forward.