URC Church Order, Article 7 and Calling a Minister

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James Swan

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a quick question for any URC folks here.

Article 7 of the Church Order states:

Article 7

Those who are already ordained ministers within the federation may be called to another congregation in a manner consistent with the above rules, without the examination or the laying on of hands. Any minister receiving a call shall consult with his current council regarding that call. He may accept the call only with their consent. Upon receipt of proper credentials from the church he last served, he shall be installed with the use of the appropriate liturgical form and shall subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity by signing the Form of Subscription.

A few years back, another URC church stated something like "The Holy Spirit led them" to call the pastor of my church to be their pastor (at least, that's how I vaguely remember it). Long story short, our Pastor did not take that call. Back then I was new to the URC, but I recall being a bit miffed that some other church disrupted our church by making this "call." One of the elders explained to me it was in the church order, so it was an approved method. Needless to say, the entire thing cause quite a disruption in the harmony of our church. Maybe it was also a good thing in a way, as any who took the pastor for granted were reminded that his ministry was a gift to us. There were many tears the night the announcement was made that the call to this other church was not going to be taken.

It seems to me this method in the URC comes causes a lot of trouble. While no analogy is perfect, If the pastor is supposed to be shepherd of his flock, and some other church calls the shepherd, the sheep become... a bit confused. Why is our shepherd leaving?

My question is this: am I out in left field with such a criticism? Currently my church is in the process of evaluating candidates for an assistant pastoral role at our church. I can't help but wonder if our calls to pastors already with churches is causing the same sort of chaos that was inflicted on my church some time back. I wonder if some other sort of method could be worked out.

I would assume Article 7 is some sort of carry-over from the CRC church order, but I have not checked.

The only positive thing I can think about this whole process is that perhaps it's one of the only positive ways a pastor who wants to leave his church can actually leave that church.

Sincerely,

A Confused URC sheep.
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
For the record, this is common in other NAPARC churches besides the URC. In the RPCNA, a man can be called who is already serving in another church. It's not out of order according to any of our church orders.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
I find nothing unusual about this or unique to the URC. The minister declines or accepts the call only after receiving the blessing of his council. So if his council concurs that the Lord is calling him elsewhere, not sure what the problem is. They will then engage the same process to issue a call to another man, who may be serving another church as well.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
From a procedure and practical standpoint,
Any idea what happens if the home church council does not consent to the transfer to a new church?

Also, is anyone aware if the Pastoral call is ever for a set term (e.g. six years) in the URC?
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
From a CanRC perspective, the only unusual thing here is that calls can only be accepted with the consent of the church council. In our federation, it's strictly up to the minister. He might and probably would confer with his council, but he's not obligated to. Otherwise, everything here is standard practice in Reformed churches today and historically.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
From a procedure and practical standpoint,
Any idea what happens if the home church council does not consent to the transfer to a new church?

Also, is anyone aware if the Pastoral call is ever for a set term (e.g. six years) in the URC?

As to your first question, if the consent is not given, then the minister would decline the new call and continue serving his current church. I am not aware of this ever happening, but I can envision circumstances where it would.

Also, I am not aware of any calls in the URC that set a fixed term of years. There could be special circumstances that would suggest doing so, but that would be unusual. For example, our church called an associate pastor whose service is "on loan" to a seminary. The duration of his call is specifically limited to the time of his service to the seminary, and should his work there cease, he would need to seek a new call.
 

James Swan

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you all for your comments.

The only point of clarification I would ask is the following: Am I right to conclude from all of this that a URC minister can simply deny the call from a church (that is, saying, "I'm not interested at the moment"?

I would assume this is indeed the case- in which case, it appears whatever "goes down" (for lack of a better phrase), would ultimately be the result of the actions and responses of the minister.

Thanks again.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The only point of clarification I would ask is the following: Am I right to conclude from all of this that a URC minister can simply deny the call from a church (that is, saying, "I'm not interested at the moment"?

Yes. There is no compulsion to heed the call besides what is revealed to the man through prayer and the God given wisdom of his sanctified wife, mind, heart and the godly counsel of others.
 
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