Thursday, April 28, 2016

Can Jeff come back?

Several have asked me if I can return to do their family weddings or funerals. The United Methodist Church sets policy regarding such requests. In the Methodist brochure: Clergy on the Move we find these words:

A new pastor comes to an appointment with all the rights and responsibilities of the office. This means the pastor has left the previous appointment and turned that ministry over to a new pastor.

It is not ethical for a pastor to return to a previous appointment to conduct weddings or funerals or to take part in an ongoing function of the church or perform pastoral functions. A former pastor may participate in weddings or funerals ONLY at the initiation and direct invitation of the pastor in charge.

It is helpful for the laity to assist in the adjustment of the new pastor by not asking the former pastor to return, except as a friend or visitor.

There are two main reasons for this policy. First, if a former pastor returns, it interferes with the new pastor's ability to get to know the congregation and be seen as their pastor. Secondly, if pastors return to previous appointments for such things, it takes away from their ability to be effective in their new setting. When I moved to Woods Chapel I was asked several times to go back to Princeton for funerals and weddings. I never did. I wanted to be fully present for my new Woods Chapel friends.

There may be a time in the future when a return would be permissible, but only at the direct invitation of the current pastor. For the foreseeable future, I can't see myself coming back. I hope you understand. Its not what everyone prefers, but it is the right thing for both churches. And as my Daddy always said, the right thing to do is the right thing to do.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation. But Jeff also can't come back when he isn't gone yet. We're glad you're still here for more than a month. I'm just going to enjoy the time you have left here.