Church Elders Have Voted to Dismiss Our Pastor, What Can Be Done to Reject Their Decision?
November 8, 2016
3 comments 3448 views
On Sunday November 6th, 2016 a member of the board of Elders announced essentially that they have voted to dismiss our church pastor because of differences in views.
This is the history of the situation from my understanding: 5 years ago the church voted to select our current pastor (a Discipling pastor) after the previous pastor died (he was a Shepherding pastor). The vote to dismiss our pastor was a 5 to 2 decision by the current board of elders that was selected only a few months ago through a drawing of lots (this felt like a really weird way to do it to me personally). Apparently the discussion of dismissing him started around 2 years into him being a pastor, most likely due to them not being successful in trying to turn him into the previous pastor.
The decision caused a few people to cry and a lot of us to just be angry at our board of Elders and church politics. This came as a shock to all of us because it said that though the church chose him as a pastor we don't have any say in if he gets to stay and the rift between the elders and our pastor was not evident at all. It was even more insulting that the announcement was made right before the US presidential election (a church member said that now it is evident that our vote apparently does not matter in two decisions).
National politics aside, the members of the church want to know if something can be done to say we reject the elders decision besides writing emails to the elders?
Also, do they even have the right to do this in the first place?
The decision was made without even the pastor knowing that they would be voting on it and to a lot of us it feels like it was based more on the personal views of the elders rather than thinking about what is best for the church.
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Church Order has a system of a checks and balances for accountability set-up in order to prevent things like this from happening. The elders do not have the authority to make such a unilateral decision. The COUNCIL may suspend a pastor, but that suspension is then reported to classis who will ensure that the suspension is justified and that proper follow-up is taking place to resolve the conflict leading to the suspension. Church order prohibits our congregations from "firing" a pastor whenever and for whatever reason they want. If classis hasn't been brought into this yet, that MUST happen ASAP. The situation is not healthy for the pastor, elders, council, or church. Get help. And even as a church member, you can contact classis personal yourself and ensure the ball gets rolling. My heart breaks for you and the church at this difficult and confusing time.
I concur with the last comment by Jason DeVries. It's time to get the Church Visitors involved in this matter. A church council can't just dismiss a pastor on its own. Classis and the Synodical Deputies have to concur with the decision. You can find the relevant information about release from ministry in Article 17 of the Church Order and about Church Visitors in Article 42 at https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/church_order_2016.pdf. Councils tend to think they can hire and fire pastors as they wish, but it's not that easy within our denominational covenant. It looks to me that in this situation our denominational checks and balances will bring some healthy accountability. Call the Stated Clerk of your Classis, find out who the Church Visitors are for your congregation, call them and discuss this matter with them. I'm sad for you and your congregation that it had to go this way. God bless you.
Thanks for the question and good responses. As this is a public thread, please follow the advice above and let's avoid further discussion of the details of what I'm sure is a sensitive and difficult matter.
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