The General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted in May to stop guaranteeing continuous appointments to ordained clergy. Supporters say the move will allow churches to more easily remove ineffective clergy; opponents argue the practice protects clergy members.
"A lengthy renewable contract makes some sense, and I can envision a scenario where it might endow a pastor with necessary authority, time, and freedom. But accountability always needs to be in place. Few things are more dangerous in a pulpit than a lack of it."
"A church covenant specifying responsibilities of a pastor to a congregation and vice versa—including a biblical process to address grievances—would be appropriate and helpful. I would not support some legal arrangement that spelled out guaranteed terms of office."
"It's a really good idea for pastors to be at their churches for as long as they possibly can. There's a biblical idea that a long-term relationship is ideal. But I don't think the church has to guarantee that an elder or pastor will remain in residence."
"Clearly the congregation needs to be able to get to know its pastor, but setting a specific time limit is like a fixed-term presidency: It could impact the way the pastor behaves just to massage his popularity numbers when the key vote comes down in three or four years' time."
"Clergy should have assessments, but the commitment between a pastor and a church should be more covenantal than contractual. For there to be a covenantal bond, there also needs to be an unconditional commitment between them—one not linked to time limits."
"Pastors have to be willing to lead a precarious existence. ...