Some churches have fired deacons from their appointments, without prior notice and without consultation with the district superintendent.
If you are a deacon appointed to a congregation, know the proper due process for ending appointments. Make sure this is part of your appointment covenant.
Here are the supervisory processes that The Book of Discipline 2012 requires of deacons whose primary appointment is to a United Methodist congregation:
- The district superintendent is the supervisor of conference clergy. The bishop appoints conference clergy, which includes deacons.
- The deacon requests of the bishop an appointment to the congregation or entity that wishes to employ the deacon.
- A United Methodist congregation may not dismiss a deacon without prior consultation between the deacon and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, nor without full knowledge of the district superintendent and bishop (¶ 331.10.e).
- The Staff-Parish Relations Committee may recommend dismissal of a deacon, but an appointment change can be carried out only by the bishop and the bishop’s cabinet (¶ 258.2.g.11).
- If the SPRC plans to discuss continued appointment of the deacon, the SPRC must inform the deacon in advance (¶ 258.2.e).
- The deacon shall be given a minimum of 90 days’ notice before final termination (¶ 331.10.e).
- When the deacon needs improvement in required ministry skills, the Discipline requires, in ¶ 360, that the clergyperson develop with the bishop a plan for improved ministry skills and practices.
For further consideration:
- The district superintendent should sign off on job descriptions and covenants of deacons whose primary appointments are to United Methodist congregations, to allow for informed supervision. Further, a church should consult with the deacon and the district superintendent before changing the job descriptions, covenants, compensation, or total work hours required of the deacon.
- Prepare an appointment covenant to clarify these and other ministry expectations in advance.
If you are appointed to a congregation, please make sure that your Staff/Parish Relations Committee, district superintendent, and the church’s lead pastor is aware of these denominational policies.