Creation of a new called position of Transitional Pastor was adopted by the EPC 37th General Assembly on June 22 at Fair Oaks Church in Sacramento, Calif. The action not only created and defined the Transitional Pastor position, but also clarified the role of Stated Supply Pastor in Section 10-7 of the Book of Government regarding temporary pastoral relationships.
Jerry Iamurri, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk and former member of the Ministerial Vocation Committee, noted that the committee worked to more accurately reflect the role of an interim pastor in the life of both a local church and the EPC.
“The committee recommended changing the title of Interim Pastor to Transitional Pastor because it more accurately defines the task, and further establishes the role as a ‘call’ from the Session of a church,” Iamurri said.
The provisions of the call state that a Transitional Pastor:
- Is called by the Session to serve a congregation while it is seeking a pastor.
- Intentionally leads the congregation toward greater health and readiness for their next pastor.
- Will ordinarily be appointed by the presbytery to moderate the Session during his or her time of service.
- Would retain membership in his or her home presbytery, if different from that in which the call is located.
- Are introduced to the receiving presbytery and enrolled as a corresponding member (voice but no vote) upon approval of the Ministerial Committee.
In addition, those called from outside the EPC would be examined by the presbytery and transferred according to applicable provisions of the Book of Government.
The Ministerial Vocation Committee will oversee the training, certification, and ongoing support of Transitional Pastors.
In clarifying the Stated Supply position, the action allows churches that do not want a transitional pastor to still invite a minister to serve as Stated Supply, and for ministers from outside the EPC to serve as Stated Supply pastors without transferring their ordination to the EPC.
In related actions, the Assembly approved four amendments to the Book of Government:
- Adjusted the wording in two sections related to the term of service for an out-of-bounds call to reflect that such term is renewable for up to three years. The amendment brings the two passages into alignment, limits the length of an out-of-bounds term to three years (with permission to continue renewable), and gives presbyteries discretion to set a shorter term.
- A presbytery may authorize its Ministerial Committee to serve as a judicial or administrative commission, or be appointed as an ongoing administrative commission. The action allows the committee to dissolve pastoral relationships and dismiss Teaching Elders (according to the EPC Book of Order) when both the congregation and the Pastor concur; approve temporary pastoral relationships; review terms of call or invitations for all pastoral relationships (excluding out-of-bounds) to ensure that the terms meet the minimum established standards; ordain and/or install Teaching Elders in accordance with provisions in the Book of Government; and appoint advisors for Candidates Under Care and mentors for Commissioned Pastors.
- Added the Transitional Pastor as a recognized pastoral relationship for Teaching Elders in a congregational setting.
- Clarified that a Session may call a Teaching Elder as Assistant Pastor or Transitional Pastor, and is authorized to invite a Teaching Elder as Stated Supply Pastor or Occasional Supply Pastor—all of which must be approved by the presbytery since they involve a Teaching Elder.