The Manual of The Free Methodist Church in Canada says that … “any society or individual member of a local society shall have the right to submit resolutions to the General Conference and to have them fully heard. These must be introduced by a member of the General Conference and are subject to the rules of that body” (Par 410.5). The Study Commission on Doctrine acts as the General Conference Committee on Resolutions to evaluate and give direction for processing resolutions.
Below are the Resolutions received by the deadline of February 15, 2011. They are also available for download.
Resolution 1: Commissioned Minister [Normand Doucette/Nathan Umazekabiri] [download pdf]
Action: Referred to the Ministerial Education, Guidance and Placement Committee
Whereas: Ministerial Candidates or Commissioned ministers of the Free Methodist Church according to the Conference regulations have a voice, but are unable to vote within the Conference.
Whereas: A Delegate within the Free Methodist Church has a voice and the rights and privilege to vote within the General Conference.
Whereas: The only requirement for a Delegate is that they be a member in good standing within their local church they will represent, regardless of the time they have attended the said local church.
Therefore, be it resolved that a Supply Pastor, who has been the senior Pastor of a local church for a minimum of four to five years, who has been in tracking towards ordination and who has reached the level of Commissioned Minister, should be granted the right and privilege to vote within the General Conference. This would be possible as long as they are in Good Standing with the denomination and local church and still pastoring a local church or church plant.
Submitted by: Normand Doucette (Commissioned Minister) Clarenceville, Quebec
Sponsor: Nathan E. Umazekabiri (Ordained Minister) Montreal, Quebec
Resolution 2: Membership Question [Rice Road Community Church / Matthew Wiley] Download pdf]
Action: Referred to the Study Commission on Doctrine
Whereas, the word ”accept” or “acceptance” is employed within section 151 and 161 as it pertains to the ordinance of membership, denoting full compliance by a membership candidate and …
Whereas, it being clearly obvious that currently within the Kingdom of God worldwide, the traditional denominational paradigm has been unravelling over the past three to five decades and transitioning towards a focus for Christian groupings on core confessional creeds of the Christian faith and …
Whereas, the local congregation is increasingly comprised of Christians from various backgrounds and persuasions and…
Whereas, the whole tenure of Romans 14 implores believers to not be divided over second tier theological issues.
Whereas, authentic believers of noble character but who have a diverse perspective on a second tier, non-creedal theological issue, may with a clear conscience and complete integrity enter into a membership covenant with a local Free Methodist congregation. The word “honour” will be used within this context to imply a general deferring to the Free Methodist position as outlined in the Articles of Religion and a commitment to refrain from all theologically subversive behaviour.
Therefore, be it resolved that the term “acceptance” in section 151 be replaced with the word “honouring” and similarly in section 161, the Pastor would use the word “honour” in place of the word “accept” in the fourth membership question.
Submitted by: Rice Road Community Church, Welland, Ontario
Sponsored by: Rev. Matthew Wiley
Resolution 3: Transition Facilitator [Joe Schaefer / Matthew McEwen] [download pdf]
Action: Referred to the Board of Administration
…Healthy transitions are vital to the life of a local church in sustaining a missional focus.
…Exceedingly lengthy transitions can be a hindrance to the local church and the denomination.
…The transition process can be arduous (difficult, laborious) to complete.
…A skilled facilitator can greatly assist the local church in completing all the necessary steps required.
…Transition can be a good opportunity for reflection and evaluation of the health of the local church only if the data is interpreted correctly.
Therefore, be it resolved
That a skilled, trained “Transition Facilitator” be assigned to assist the PLTF in their work to oversee a timely, healthy pastoral transition. The facilitator will be available to every church in transition, including those that choose to use an interim pastor.
Submitted by: Rev. Joseph Schaefer / Rev. Matthew McEwen
Supportive Arguments – Transition Resolution 2011
The subject of improving our denomination’s transition process for Pastors / churches has raised quite a bit of interest both in the volume and intensity of people responding. The opinions of those contributing to the discussion varied far and wide. We believe that the most effective and fruitful response would be to retain skilled, trained “transition facilitators” who will assist churches in selecting their next Pastor.
Healthy transitions are vital to the life of a local church in sustaining a missional focus. We can all imagine what a productive, profitable time transition can be in the life of a local church, but what if it is neither productive nor profitable? Many issues can derail the transition. Instead of marching steadily forward to success, some churches report discouragement and frustration. Having a skilled person resource the Pastoral Leadership Task Force can help a church maintain its forward momentum in the work of the Kingdom.
Exceedingly lengthy transitions can be a hindrance to the local church and the denomination. For a variety of reasons transitions have been seen to drag on much longer than necessary. Relationships in the local church can become increasingly strained. The aforementioned discouragement and frustration set in. In our small(ish) denomination there are limited opportunities for Pastors to move. When a church gets hung up in their transition process it has a domino effect on those churches and Pastors needing a move who are forced to wait.
Without making any hard and fast rules on this point, it seems reasonable that a healthy transition can be completed in 12 months. Currently there is no time frame specified. Without a sense of urgency some churches are becoming bogged down. PLTF members have complained of the fatigue of what seem like endless meeting. Trained transition facilitators can be instrumental in moving the process along at a reasonable pace. If there is a situation that requires a lengthier period of time the facilitator can assess the need and help the church resolve whatever issues they are facing.
The transition process can be arduous (difficult, laborious) to complete. Our current system contains many useful tools for churches to assess themselves, their community and their direction from God. While not stated, our current process requires that certain skills be present in the local church to complete the work. However, not all churches (PLTFs) are created equal. Some churches may not have the leadership, processing and analytical not to mention human resources skills necessary to complete the work in a timely manner. A trained facilitator can bring understanding and focus to a PLTF that needs it. A skilled facilitator can greatly assist the local church in completing all the necessary steps required.
Transition can be a good opportunity for reflection and evaluation of the health of the local church only if accurate, honest data can be collected and only if the data is interpreted correctly. Again, certain skills are required to gather and interpret the material. Where there is already an unhealthy culture in a church an unhealthy transition is more likely to occur. Toxic relationships and unresolved conflict come to the surface and cloud our vision. Self diagnosis is a tricky business. Objective input brought by someone who knows what they are looking at is extremely valuable at this point.
The Interim Pastor and the Transition Facilitator – Transitions are becoming times when issues are being stirred up and addressed in local churches. This is good. However we need to face the fact that these (possibly toxic) issues may be beyond the normal scope and skill of the average pastor. After all, these issues developed under the ministry of a full time pastor or have not been able to be resolved through regular ministry. Indeed, in some cases the situations have been unresolved for many years. Transition is a perfect time to restore health but will require training and special skills. We feel there is a place for the Pastor (interim or supply) to bring their special ministry to the flock AND a place for another set of skills to help resolve other conflict. Both are a valuable and necessary ministry.
We propose that transition facilitators be made available through the following options. 1) Facilitators be hired full-time by the denomination specifically for the task. These
individuals should plan to meet with their assigned churches not less than once a month. They can work geographically and over a large area. OR
2) Facilitators be local pastors who are assigned to a smaller geographic area with fewer churches to oversee. (The Presbyterian Church in Canada assigns local pastors to help nearby church in transition. The assisting pastor [Interim Moderator] receives 1/10 of the former Pastor’s full time salary.)
In either case the facilitators will be funded by the churches they are helping. Churches in transition rarely pay a full salary to their interim or supply pastors. While some may see this as an opportune time to “build up the war chest,” the money will be better spent in producing a successful transition.
The role of the Transition Facilitator will be:
i) Educate – the PLTF on the transition process
ii) Administrate – keep the local PLFT on track with meetings, assignments and paperwork
iii) Facilitate – the “group think” process. Help the local PLTF tell their story and work through issues in an open and honest way.
Facilitate – the correct interpretation of the data
iv) Evaluate – church health. See the signs of unhealthy patterns and relationships. Address unhealthy dynamics. Call to account those responsible. Help the church become more healthy through the process.
Two organizations that provide the training for transitional specialists are:
– Outreach Canada http://en.outreach.ca/servingyou/churchhealth/transitionalleadership.aspx
– Interim Ministry Network http://www.imnedu.org/pts.htm