2023 Manual Frequently Asked Questions
The 2023 Manual is available as a downloadable PDF in English and for purchase in a printed book version in English through The Foundry Publishing. An electronic version and other languages will be posted online as finalized and made available.
Paragraph references listed here are from the 2023 Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.
1. What are the bylaws of a local church? (paragraph 102.4)
The bylaws of a local Church of the Nazarene shall be the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.
2. Is “Church of the Nazarene” required to be included in the corporate name of a local church? (paragraph 102.4)
Yes. However, a previous General Assembly removed the requirement that “Church of the Nazarene” appear on church signs, stationary, and church publications.
3. When a local church votes to change their name, when can they begin using the new name? (paragraph 101.1)
After final approval of the District Advisory Board.
4. Do civil law procedures take precedence over church directives in local church elections? (paragraphs 115.4, 133.5, 135.3-135.3, 152-152.1)
5. What is the minimum notice for an annual or special church meeting? (paragraph 115.7,115.8)
6. May local church meetings be conducted electronically? Is absentee voting allowed in church meetings? (paragraph 115.2)
All local church meetings, church boards, and councils and committees are authorized to meet by telephone conference or through other electronic media if all involved have opportunity to communicate and participate. Voting in annual and special meetings in multiple sites and times shall be conducted via a process approved by the District Advisory Board. There is no provision for absentee voting in church meetings. This means that those eligible to vote, must participate in the meeting – either in-person or through a designated electronic method – and vote within the designated times.
7. What is the quorum for a local church meeting? (paragraph 115)
Rulings by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 21 February 2017 & 20 September 2017) state that: “Since the Manual does not contain any specificity about quorum for local or district meetings, these meetings must take place at the announced times as determined by the Manual and with the members present.”
“1. All meetings of the local and district level are to be announced in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws of that body.
2. Those delegates (members) present and registered at the commencement of the first business session of such entity constitute the full membership of that entity.
3. A quorum representing at minimal a majority (more than half) of the full membership is to be maintained for legislative action at any time of the meeting of such entity.
4. Further action by the remaining members of a meeting without quorum will be limited to the receiving of reports not requiring legislative action.”
8. Are nominations from the floor allowed at a local church meetings? (paragraphs 33, 115.10)
Yes. Further, if nominations are made from the floor, they may be referred by majority vote of the members present to the Nominating Committee for screening and approval to be certain that such nominees meet the qualifications for church officers as specified in paragraph 33.
In harmony with paragraph 33, 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.”
NOTE: This is also applicable to nominations from the floor of a district assembly. The requirement of paragraph 203 to ‘use’ a District Nominating Committee does not prohibit nominations from the floor; if nominations are made from the floor, they may be referred by majority vote of the assembly to the Nominating Committee for screening and approval, to be certain that such nominees meet the qualifications for church officers as specified in paragraph 33. (paragraph 203)
9. Does the congregation 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.”
10. May a district sell property of an inactive local church before it is disorganized? (paragraphs 104.3, 108.2, 108.3, 108.5)
11. May a person serve on a board of tellers if he or she is not a member of the voting body?
12a. May a pastor of a local church vote in local church elections? (paragraphs 115.1, 131, 516, 518)
Yes, as long as his or her membership is held in that local church. Interim or supply pastors who are not members of the local church may not vote.
12b. May a pastor of a local church vote during church board meetings? (paragraph 125.15, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th ed.)* 4:56)
Yes. The pastor is a member of the board with the same privileges as any other board member and can always vote but is not required to.
*This is the parliamentary procedure reference book for the denomination. (Manual paragraph 34)
13. May a person other than the pastor be named as chairperson of the church board? (paragraphs 138, 125.15)
No. While church board may designate an individual as a “presider” of the board meetings to conduct the business, the Manual states that the pastor is the “chairperson of the church board.”
14. What is the minimum and maximum membership for the church board? (paragraphs 115.12, 137, 147, 151)
The minimum is five (3 trustees and 2 stewards) and the maximum is 25, unless an alternative board and committee structure has been approved in writing by the district superintendent and the District Advisory Board, and such structure complies with civil requirements.
15. May the Nazarene Youth International (NYI), Nazarene Missions International (NMI), or Nazarene Discipleship International (NDI) president be elected as a trustee or steward of the church board? (paragraphs 147, 151, 156, 160, 162.2)
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 NDI President. 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.
16a. May a paid employee of the local church serve on the church board? (paragraphs 137, 169.4)
No, paid employees of the local church are not eligible to serve on the church board.
16b. May a member of the clergy serve on the church board? (paragraphs 137, 169.4)
Yes, if approved by the pastor and the district superintendent, provided they are not a paid employee of the local church.
17. What is the quorum for a meeting of the church board? (paragraph 138, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th ed.) 3:3)
The majority of all board members, including the pastor. (“Majority” means more than half.)
18. When must a church board member abstain from voting and/or recuse themselves? (paragraphs 133, 135.1, 137, 138.1)
• When voting on any matter in which they (or an immediate family member) have a direct personal or vested interest not common to other members of the board;
• If the board member is the spouse of the pastor, he or she shall not participate in the pastoral review**;
• District licensed ministers are recused from church board action recommending the minister to the district assembly for renewal of district minister’s license.
**Other immediate relatives of the pastor or of the previous pastor may be recused from a church/pastoral review. (paragraphs 133.1, 135.1)
19a. May the church board fill a vacancy on the board? (paragraphs 137.3, 149, 154, 156, 810.108, 811 Article V)
Yes. Vacancies may be filled by the described processes in the Manual and must be announced to the congregation. If the church board chooses, vacancies may be left unfilled, provided the minimum membership for the church board has been met.
19b. When the church board fills a vacancy, how long does the person who is elected to fill the position serve in the assignment? (paragraph 117.3)
The person elected to fill the vacancy would serve through the remaining term of the person he or she has replaced.
NOTE: This is applicable for all local or district leadership positions on a board or committee, unless specified otherwise. A person who is appointed or elected to fill a vacancy would serve through the remaining (unexpired) term of the person he or she has replaced.
20a. Is it required that the church board secretary and church board treasurer be members of the church board? (paragraphs 139.19-139.20)
No. The board may elect 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.
20b. Is it required that the church board secretary and church board treasurer be members of the local Church of the Nazarene which elects them to either the secretary or treasurer position? (paragraphs 115.11, 139.19-139.20)
Yes. These individuals must be members of the local Church of the Nazarene where they are asked to serve as officers.
21. Who may sign legal documents for a local church? (paragraphs 102.3, 125.11, 145.7)
The pastor and church board secretary, unless the board has authorized others. If the church is inactive or disorganized, the district superintendent and district secretary may sign legal documents.
22. 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 139.30)
The local church board. Any approved plan should also include a policy for a response if such misconduct does occur.
23. If an individual has committed an incident of sexual abuse against a child***, may this person hold any ministerial credential, serve in any position of responsibility for or ministry with children, or be elected or appointed to any leadership role in the local church? (paragraphs 532.9, 916, rulings by the Board of General Superintendents dated 1 October 2020 and 3 December 2013)
No. A person in this situation may not serve in any role other than parishioner with no other responsibilities within the local church. This means he or she may not be employed or volunteer in any area of service for the local church.
***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. This is regardless of whatever age of consent may exist in a particular state or nation.
24. 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 34, 138, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th ed.) 9:25, 28-29)
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). Nonmembers 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 (12th ed.) 9:28-
29, states the following about a public session: “A deliberative assembly or committee is normally entitled to determine whether nonmembers may attend or be excluded from its meetings (even when not in executive 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 (12th ed.) 9:25, states the following about an executive session: “…only members of the body that is meeting, special invitees, and such employees or staff members as the body or its rules may determine to be necessary are allowed to remain in the hall. Thus, in the case of a board or committee meeting being held in executive session, all persons—whether or not they are members of the organization—who are not members of the board or committee (and who are not otherwise specifically invited or entitled to attend) are excluded from the meeting.”
25. What are the options for addressing a possible removal of a church board member before the individual’s term has expired? (paragraphs 132.1, 137.2, 136-136.1, 603-604.2, 605, 606)
The pastor should implement the "seek to resolve differences" steps that are found in Manual paragraph 132.1 (which also references portions of Matthew 18 and Galatians 6), the processes for “Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in the Church” in paragraphs 603-603.2, and/or the process for “Resolution of Disciplinary Matters by Agreement” in paragraphs 604-604.2. Following those steps and processes, the options are:
1. A church board member may be removed by two-thirds vote of the church board when it is determined by the pastor and church board that the board member is out of harmony with paragraph 33, providing the pastor first consults with the district superintendent, that subsequent restorative efforts prove unsuccessful, and that the written approval of the district superintendent is received prior to any such vote.
2. A district superintendent may declare the church in crisis (paragraphs 136-136.1), and then follow the steps to terminate the entire board; then with approvals, appoint the members of the church board.
3. Initiate the processes for lay (paragraph 605) or ministerial (paragraph 606) discipline, whichever is applicable.
26. May the name of a local church member whose membership has been declared inactive by action of the church board be dropped immediately from the membership roll? (paragraphs 111.2, 114.3)
No. The name of an inactive church member may only be removed from the membership roll after at least one year from the dates when his or her membership was declared inactive and upon action of the church board. A ruling from the Board of General Superintendents (dated 14 April 1987) states that the intent of paragraph 111.2 is to not permit precipitous dropping of members from the roll; i.e. not before at least one year (paragraph 114.3).
27. Is there a limit on the number of local church members that may be removed by the church board in one year? (paragraphs 114-114.3)
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.
28. What are fellowship members? (paragraphs 110-110.1, 205.24)
Districts may provide a system for its local churches to have fellowship members. Fellowship members have all the privileges of church members, with the exception of voting and holding church office.
Districts must have a fellowship member policy, established by the district assembly, for its local churches to receive fellowship members and report them on the Annual Pastor’s Report. Such policy may provide a membership option for those who associate as regular attenders but may not be ready to become a full member or do not meet the requirements for full membership as found in Manual 109.
29a. Does an unpaid staff member (associate) need to be approved by the district superintendent? (paragraph 169.1, 211.13)
Yes, approval is needed for any associate (paid or unpaid).
29b. Is it necessary for the district superintendent to approve the hiring of secretarial or custodial staff in the local church? (paragraphs 169.01, 211.13)
30. May a pastor dismiss an assistant in the local church? (paragraph 169.2)
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.
31a. What local church staff must resign when a senior or lead pastor resigns? (paragraphs 169.1, 169.5)
Any associates (paid or unpaid) must resign, effective concurrently with the pastor’s resignation. Any directors of childcare/school must also resign, effective at the end of the current school year. The chief executive officer of any subsidiary and/or affiliated corporation shall submit his or her resignation at the end of that contractual period. The church board and district superintendent may approve interim assignments.
31b. Must a local church office secretary or custodian resign when a senior or lead pastor resigns? (paragraphs 169.1, 169.5)
No. Any secretarial or custodial staff would not be required to resign, unless the district superintendent determines it would be necessary, based on a specific position.
32. May a district superintendent appoint a supply or interim pastor? (paragraphs 212, 212.1, 516, 518)
Yes, with the consent of the 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.
33. Can an ordained deacon serve in the role of Pastor? (paragraph 514)
The role of pastor is to be filled by an ordained elder or licensed minister on the elder track. A ruling from the Board of General Superintendents (dated 22 May 2013) does provide for an exception, “No deacon can be senior pastor of a church on a regular basis unless he or she has entered into the Course of Study to become an elder.”
34. When must a District Advisory Board give approval of a pastoral nominee for a local church? (paragraphs 117, 119, 139.2, 169.8, 211.10)
A ruling by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 17 September 2013) states that "District Advisory Board approval of a pastoral nominee for a local church is necessary 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.”
35. 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 117-117.1)
A ruling by the Board of General Superintendents (dated 3 December 2013) states, “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.”
36. May a special church/pastoral relationship review be called for in the first two years of pastoral service? (paragraph 135)
Yes. A special church/pastoral relationship review may be called for at any time in the interim of regular reviews.
37. For a regular church/pastoral relationship review, what is the definition of the phrase “within 60 days of the second anniversary of pastoral service”? (paragraph 133)
It means 60 days before the anniversary or 60 days after the anniversary.
38. May a church-type mission (or parent-affiliated congregation) which has received church members have delegate representation at a district assembly? (paragraph 115.15)
39a. 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.
NOTE: When a minister is unassigned or retired unassigned, he or she is not eligible to be a delegate to the district assembly, except that a retired unassigned minister who takes an active assignment recognized by the district and is serving in that assignment at the time of a district assembly would be a member of the district assembly.
39b. May a minister whose credential is in a filed, revoked, or surrendered status be elected as a local church delegate to the district assembly? (paragraphs 201, 530)
NOTE: Only assigned ministers may be delegates by virtue of their assignment. If a minister’s credential is in a “filed, revoked, or surrendered” status, he or she is not an “assigned” minister. Someone 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.
40. Is a retired minister required to report annually to their district assembly? (paragraph 528.2)
Yes. “In the case of retired ministers who are unable to report due to limitations beyond their control, the district assembly may, upon recommendation of the District Ministerial Credentials Board or District Board of Ministry, grant ‘exempt’ status to such a minister, thus perpetually fulfilling the obligation of annual reporting.”
41. Does full-time, paid service while holding a local minister’s license count toward ordination? (paragraphs 523, 525.3, 526.3, 530)
No. Years of assigned ministry toward ordination do not accrue for individuals who hold a local minister’s license. A local licensed minister is a layperson and not considered an assigned minister. “Assigned” is defined as “the status of a member of the clergy who is active in one of the roles listed in paragraphs 505-520”.
42. May a minister who has placed his or her credential in a filed status with the General Secretary officiate at weddings? (paragraph 530)
NOTE: This answer is also applicable to ministers with a credential status of dropped, revoked, or surrendered.
43. What is the process for reinstatement of minister who has been removed from the Roster of Ministers? (paragraphs 530.12, 531.10, 531.11, 532.13)
Reinstatement must be sought through the district where jurisdiction is held. This is usually the district on which ministerial membership was held when the minister was removed from the Roster of Ministers. For the reinstatement of a filed credential, refer to Manual paragraph 531.10; for resigned or revoked credential, refer to paragraph 531.11; for surrendered credential, refer to paragraphs 532-532.13.