That the Assembly resolve:
To request the Standing Committee, on the advice of the Legal Reference Committee, to amend the following Regulations relating to candidates for ministry:
- Amend Regulations 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 so that when they reference the presbytery the following words are added, ‘or, in the case of Congress members, the Congress MEB’.
- Amend Regulation 220.127.116.11(b) to read
(b) A two-thirds majority of members present shall be required to commend the applicant to the Synod selection panel or, in the case of Congress members the National Executive, as suitable for candidature.
- Amend Regulation 18.104.22.168 by the addition of a new paragraph (a), and renumber all subsequent paragraphs.
(a) Where the applicants for candidature are members of Congress the duties in clauses (b) and (c) shall be carried out by the Congress MEB, and a representative of the applicant’s regional committee. The MEB will make a recommendation to the National Executive which shall determine the application.
- Amend the start of Regulation 22.214.171.124(d) to read
(d) The selection panel or in the case of members of Congress, the National Executive shall determine the application by:”
- Amend the start of Regulation 126.96.36.199(e) to read
(e) The resolution of the selection panel or in the case of members of Congress, the National Executive accepting an applicant shall:”
- Amend the heading above Regulation 188.8.131.52 to read: “RIGHT OF APPEAL AGAINST A DECISION OF THE PRESBYTERY, OR THE SELECTION PANEL, CONGRESS MEB OR NATIONAL EXECUTIVE OF CONGRESS.”
- Amend the start of Regulation 184.108.40.206(c) so that it reads “Except in the case of Congress members, the Synod Standing Committee…”
- Add an additional paragraph (d) to Regulation 220.127.116.11:
(d) In the case of Congress members the Assembly Standing Committee shall appoint an appeal committee of three persons to determine the matter. The appeal committee shall consult with the applicant and the National Executive of Congress and, when appropriate, the Congress MEB. The appeal committee shall then either dismiss the appeal or require the National Executive to reconsider the application. A decision of the appeal committee shall be final.
- Amend Regulation 18.104.22.168(a) and (b) by the addition of the words ‘or in the case of members of Congress, the Congress MEB’ after ‘Presbytery’.
- Amend Regulation 22.214.171.124 to read:
The Presbytery which shall have pastoral care and oversight of the candidate or in the case of members of Congress the Congress MEB acting on a recommendation of the candidate’s regional committee or its own assessment may terminate the candidature on any of the following grounds that:
(a) <AS IS>
(b) <AS IS WITH ADDITIONAL SENTENCE> In the case of members of Congress, following consultation with the faculty, in the judgement of the MEB the candidate is not considered suitable for the work of the specified ministry;
and amend the paragraph following (c) to read:
Consideration of termination of candidature may be initiated by the presbytery or, in the case of members of Congress the candidate’s regional committee, the faculty or the Ministerial Education Board.
- Noting that Regulation 2.4.1(b) refers to Regulation 126.96.36.199(ii) but that there is no obvious cross-reference, to amend Regulation 188.8.131.52(ii) by the addition of a 5th clause:
(5) determining requests for leave of absence or deferral of studies (See Reg 2.4.1(b)).
People are called to follow Jesus in different ways and through different ministries. The Uniting Church helps people find the ministry that is right for them through a Period of Discernment (PoD). All people are encouraged to complete a PoD. Congress MEB believes that it needs to encourage a much wider use of PoDs.
At present the PoD process relies on Ministers, Church Councils, and the Pastoral Relations Committee. Indeed, the Presbytery issues a certificate of completion, which becomes one of the documents people use when they apply to be candidates.
The Congress MEB and National Executive believe that there are two difficulties with this process for Congress: (i) Not all regional committees are presbyteries and so they do not have a Pastoral Relations Committee. Applications have to be dealt with by another presbytery. (ii) Family obligations and relationships often means that regional committees find it hard to make proper decisions about either the PoD or applications for people to be accepted as candidates.
MEB is recommending that the Assembly change UCA regulations so that the MEB and the National Executive become responsible for all decisions about the PoD and candidates.