Frequently Asked Questions

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CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE MANUAL — 2013-2017

The Manual  is available for purchase in a printed book version in English through Nazarene Publishing House. The Manual  is also accessible online at nazarene.org

Paragraph references listed here are from the 2013-2017 Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.

1. Do civil law procedures take precedence over church directives in local church elections? (paragraphs 113.4, 123, 124, 142)

Yes.

2. May a pastor of a church vote in the local church elections? (paragraphs 113.1, 521, 523, 524)

Yes, unless it is an interim or supply pastoral assignment, and his or her membership is not held in that local church.

3. May the annual church meeting occur in the same service on the second of the two Sundays in which the announcement was made? (paragraph 113.7)

Yes. However, it must be announced on at least two SUNDAYS before the annual church meeting, but the meeting could be held following the morning service, and/or in the evening service of the second Sunday on which it is announced.

4a. What is the maximum membership for the church board? (paragraphs 127, 137, 141)

The maximum is 25.

4b. What is the minimum membership for the church board? (paragraphs 113.12, 137, 141)

The minimum is six unless an alternative board and committee structure has been approved. If an alternative board and committee structure has been approved, there is no minimum number.

NOTE: A ruling from the Board of General Superintendents (dated 5 December 1986) states that “In a church with a small number of members there is no Manual stipulation which precludes an individual filling dual roles, such as trustee and SDMI superintendent, thus reducing the number of church board members. However, while there are no such prohibitions, where there are more people spiritually qualified to carry the responsibilities of church board membership this practice should be discouraged.”

5a. May the pastor be elected as the Nazarene Youth International (NYI) president?

No, but the pastor may assume the role with the approval of the church board.

5b. May the NYI president, the Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International (SDMI) superintendent or the Nazarene Missions International (NMI) president be elected as a trustee or steward of the church board? (paragraphs 137, 141, 146, 151, 153.2)

Yes.

6. May a person, other than the pastor, be named as chairperson of the local church board? (paragraphs 128, 515.15)

No. The church board may designate an individual as a “presider” of the board meetings to conduct the business, but the Manual states that the pastor is the “chairperson of the local church board.”

7a. Is an unassigned minister eligible to serve on the local church board? (paragraph 127)

No. An unassigned minister is not eligible to serve on the local church board.

7b. May a retired minister serve on the local church board? (paragraph 127)

A retired assigned minister is eligible to serve on the local church board, provided he or she is not a paid employee. A retired unassigned minister is not eligible to serve on the local church board, unless the retired unassigned minister takes an active assigned position that is recognized by the district (i.e., pastoral service, evangelism service retired, etc.), and this individual is not a paid employee of the local church.

7c. Is an unpaid associate pastor, who is a credentialed minister eligible for membership on a local church board? (paragraph 127)

Yes, an unpaid associate pastor/credentialed minister is eligible to serve on the local church board if the district considers him or her an assigned minister.

7d. Is a minister who has filed his or her credential with the General Secretary, because he or she is in secular work eligible to serve on a local church board? (paragraphs 127, 536)

No. A minister who has filed his or her credential with the General Secretary because he or she is in secular work is not eligible to serve on the local church board, because this person is still a minister, but is unassigned.

Note: This is also applicable to ministers with a credential status of dropped, removed, or surrendered. However, if the minister chooses to change his or her credential status from filed to resigned (which would change the individual’s status from clergy to lay), then it would be possible to be nominated for election to local church board membership.

8. May an unassigned minister be elected as an NMI president, an NYI president, or an SDMI superintendent? (paragraph 127)

No. Those officers are ex-officio members of the local church board, and unassigned ministers are not eligible to serve on the local church board.

9a. Is it required that the church board secretary and the church board treasurer be members of the church board? (paragraphs 129.19, 129.20)

No. The board may appoint these officers from outside the elected membership of the church board. However, these officers would not have any voting privileges on the board, and would only have voice privileges when granted such by the board chairperson.

9b. Is it required that the church board secretary and the church board treasurer be members of the local Church of the Nazarene which elects them to either the secretary or treasurer position? (paragraphs 113.11, 129.19-129.20)

Yes, these individuals must be members of the local Church of the Nazarene where they are asked to serve as officers.

10. Are nominations from the floor allowed at any local church meetings? (paragraphs 34, 113.10)

Yes. When the ballot is presented for approval at an annual or special meeting, names may be taken from the floor for nomination, but they should be referred to the Nominating Committee for screening, before the elections occur. The business meeting will be delayed while this screening occurs. (The committee will be checking the nominees with Manual paragraph 34 to see if qualifications are sufficient for nomination.) The body may then accept an adjusted ballot, if the Nominating Committee recommends additional names be placed on the ballot.

11. May nominations be made from the floor at a district assembly? (paragraphs 34, 202.1)

Yes. A ruling by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 17 September 2013) states that “The requirement of Manual paragraph 202.1 to ‘use’ a District Nominating Committee does not prohibit nominations from the floor. In a meeting of the district assembly if nominations are made from the floor, they may be sent to the Nominating Committee for screening to be certain that such nominees are in compliance with paragraph 34. In harmony with paragraph 34 our local churches are directed ‘to elect as church officers active members of the local church who profess the experience of entire sanctification and whose lives bear public witness to the grace of God that calls us to a holy life; who are in harmony with the doctrines, polity, and practices of the Church of the Nazarene; and who support the local church faithfully in attendance, active service, and with tithes and offerings. Church officers should be fully engaged in making Christlike disciples in the nations.’ Our district officers should be expected to meet the same minimum requirements.”

12. May a pastor dismiss an assistant in the local church? (paragraph 160.2)

Yes, since employment is only for increments of one year, a pastor may choose not to re-nominate, thus ending employment. However, if the termination of employment is prior to the end of the employment term (end of fiscal church year), the church board would have to approve the action by a majority vote, and district superintendent approval would also be necessary.

13a. What church staff must resign when a senior or lead pastor resigns? (paragraph 160.5)

ALL pastoral staff must resign. Any dayschool or preschool principal/administrator must also resign, effective at the end of the school year in which the new pastor assumes the duties of the office. However, the local church board and district superintendent may approve interim assignments. The district superintendent should determine whether or not an office manager or administrative assistant should resign, as the situation arises.

13b. Must a church office secretary or custodian resign when a senior or lead pastor resigns? (paragraphs 127, 160.4, 160.5)

No. Only ministerial staff must resign. Any secretarial or custodial staff would not be required to resign, unless a district superintendent determines it would be necessary, based on a specific position.

14. May a district superintendent appoint a supply or interim pastor? (paragraphs 209, 209.1, 523, 524)

Yes, with the consent of the local church board. If the appointment is for an interim pastor, he or she may be appointed with approval of the church board and the District Advisory Board.

15a. Is it necessary for the district superintendent to approve the hiring of secretarial or custodial staff in the local church? (paragraph 208.13)

No.

15b. Does an unpaid staff member (associate pastor) need to be approved by the district superintendent? (paragraph 208.13)

Yes.

16. May a minister who has placed his or her credential in a filed status with the General Secretary officiate at weddings? (paragraph 536)

No.

NOTE: This answer is also applicable to ministers with a credential status of dropped, removed, or surrendered.

17. May a special church/pastoral review be called for in the first two years of pastoral service? (paragraphs 113.8, 124)

Yes.

NOTE: A notice to call a special church meeting must be announced in at least two preceding regular services.

18. For a regular church/pastoral review, what is the definition of the phrase “within 60 days of the second anniversary of pastoral service?” (paragraph 123)

It means 60 days before the anniversary or 60 days after the anniversary.

19a. May an unassigned minister be elected as a local church delegate to the district assembly? (paragraph 201)

No. The district assembly delegates elected by the local church are “lay” delegates. When a minister is unassigned or retired unassigned, he or she is not eligible to be a delegate to the district assembly.

NOTE: The exception for a retired unassigned minister is if that individual takes an active assigned position which is recognized by the district and if the minister is serving in that assignment at the time of a district assembly.

19b. May a minister whose credential is in a filed, removed, or surrendered status be elected as a local church delegate to the district assembly? (paragraphs 201, 536)

No. Only assigned ministers may be delegates by virtue of their assignment. If a minister’s credential status is “filed, removed, or surrendered,” he or she is not an “assigned” minister. A minister who has a “resigned” credential status is eligible for lay delegate election by the local church, because the resignation of the credential has indicated that he or she has chosen to become a layperson on a permanent basis.

20. May a church-type mission which has taken in church members have delegate representation at a district assembly? (paragraph 113.15)

Yes.

21. Is a retired minister required to report annually to their district assembly?

Yes. A ruling from the Board of General Superintendents (dated 26 May 2010) states “…that all licensed ministers, elders, and deacons must submit an annual report to the district assembly. This is applicable even though retirement status may have been officially granted by a district…in the event of incapacitation for a retired minister (licensed or ordained), the District Advisory Board may approve an exception to the requirement for an annual report.”

22. May the local church board fill a vacancy on the church board? (paragraphs 139, 144, 146, 810.108, 811 Article V)

No. Vacancies may be filled by the described processes in the Manual for annual or special elections. If the church board chooses, vacancies may be left unfilled.

23. When a local or district leadership position is vacated, how long does the person who is appointed or elected to fill the position serve in the assignment?

The person who is appointed or elected to fill the vacancy would serve through the unexpired term of the person he or she has replaced.

24. May a person serve on a board of tellers if he or she is not a member of the voting body?

Yes.

25. Are church board meetings closed or may non-church board members attend these meetings? What is the difference between a “public session” and an “executive session?” (paragraphs 35, 128)

The meetings are generally open; however, a non-board member should not plan to attend any meeting without discussing it in advance with the chairperson (pastor). Non-members would not have any voting privileges on the board, and would only have voice privileges when granted such by the full board. Some rules could limit the attendance to members only. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised** (11th edition), states the following about a public session: “…In meetings of many public bodies, such as school boards, the public may attend. Similarly, in some private organizations such as church councils, parishioners may be permitted to attend. These attendees are not members of the meeting body and ordinarily have no right to participate. Some bodies, especially public ones, may invite nonmembers to express their views, but this is done under the control of the presiding officer subject to any relevant rules adopted by the body and subject to appeal by a member. Often, by rule or practice, time limits are placed on speakers and relevance is closely monitored.” Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised** (11th edition), states the following about an executive session: “…In most organizations…membership meetings are open to the public, but board or committee meetings are customarily held in executive session. In the latter case, members of the organization who are not members of the board or committee, and sometimes nonmembers, may be invited to attend, perhaps to give a report, but they are not entitled to attend.” **This is the parliamentary procedure reference book for the denomination. (Manual paragraph 35)

26. Does full-time, active service while holding a local minister’s license count toward ordination? (paragraphs 529, 531.3, 532.3)

No. There can be no ordination service credit for individuals who hold a local minister’s license. A local licensed minister is a layperson and is not considered an assigned minister.

27. Who is responsible for setting up a process to reduce the risk of sexual misconduct of people in leadership roles in the local church? (paragraph 129.30)

The local church board. Any approved plan should also include a policy for a response if such misconduct does occur.

28. If an individual has been charged with an incident of sexual misconduct with a child, may this person hold any kind of position of leadership, trust, or ministry in the local church? (paragraphs 538.9, 903.3; a ruling approved by the Board of General Superintendents in 3 December 2013 states that directives in paragraph 538.9 are also applicable to laypersons.)

No. A person in this situation may not serve in any role other than parishioner. This means he or she may not be employed or volunteer in any area of service for the church.

NOTE: A child is defined as any human being under the age of 18, unless the age of majority is attained earlier under a state’s or country’s own domestic legislation.

29. What is the process for addressing a possible removal of a church board member before the individual’s term has expired?

A church board member cannot be arbitrarily removed from that position unless there is a disciplinary process involved, since he or she was elected by the voting members of the congregation. Here are options that could be followed: a.The pastor should implement the "seek to resolve differences" steps that are found in Manual paragraph 122.1 (which also references portions of Matthew 18 and Galatians 6). b. A district superintendent may declare the church in crisis (paragraphs 125-125.2), and then follow the steps to remove the entire board membership; then with approvals, appoint new membership; or, c.Initiate the processes for either the lay (paragraph 604) or ministerial (paragraph 605) disciplinary actions, whichever is applicable. (This option is not highly recommended, since it often tends to literally divide a congregation.)

30. Is there a limit on the number of church members that may be removed by a local church board in one year? (paragraphs 112.3, 120.1)

No. A previous general assembly approved the deletion of the paragraph which stated a maximum percentage for this process.

NOTE: It is recommended that the district superintendent and the general superintendent in jurisdiction be notified when a significant percentage of members are being removed from a church’s membership roll in one or more consecutive years.

31. May the name of a church member who has been declared inactive by action of the local church board be dropped immediately from the church membership roll? (paragraphs 109.2, 112.3)

No. A ruling from the Board of General Superintendents (dated 14 April 1987) states “…that the intent of paragraph 109.2 is to not permit precipitous dropping of members from the roll; i.e. not before the two years (paragraph 112.3). During this time a delinquent member may be placed on the inactive list or left on the active membership roll.” Another ruling from the Board of General Superintendents (dated 16 February 1987), which is related to inactive local church members, states “…that the inactive status of a member becomes effective on the date when a church board takes this action.”

32. May a district sell property of an inactive church before it is disorganized? (paragraphs 104.3, 106.2, 106.3, 106.5)

Yes.

33. Does the voting body of a local church need to vote on the erection of buildings?

Yes. A ruling by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 19 September 2002) states “…that a congregational vote is required as final approval for the erection of buildings, whether or not requiring borrowed funds.”

34. Is there an age limit for a person to be ordained? (paragraphs 531.3, 532.3)

No. A previous general assembly approved the deletion of the paragraph which designated a maximum age by which a candidate could be considered for ordination.

35. When must a District Advisory Board give approval of a pastoral nominee for a local church? (paragraphs 115, 117, 129.2, 160.8, 208.10, 222.12)

A ruling by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 17 September 2013) states that “…only when a church has been organized less than five years, or has less than 35 members, or is receiving regular financial assistance from the district, or when an elder or licensed minister has membership or is serving as paid staff in the specific local church which wishes to consider the minister as a pastoral nominee. All other pastoral nominee instances would simply require approvals of the district superintendent and the local church board.”

36. What is the process if a local church elects a pastor but the individual declines the initial call, and then later wishes to reconsider the call? (paragraphs 115-115.1)

A ruling by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 3 December 2013) states that “When an elder or licensed minister has received a two-thirds favorable vote of the eligible voting members but declines the call, the church board or the candidate may reconsider their decision upon a majority vote of the local church board without the necessity of another all church vote. If the candidate’s decision has been made public to the congregation, a reconsideration of the calling of the candidate shall be submitted to the church board and upon favorable vote recommended to another all church vote.”