Methodists/Election of Lay leader and Church Council Chairperson
QUESTION: Our Church Council is conflicted over the election of its Lay leader and Church Council Chairperson. It was brought up recently that both positions are elected by the Charge Conference. There is no mention of the frequency of the Lay leader's election (Book of Discipline - 2012 - paragraph 251.1 - page 176, and the Chair of the Church Council is elected annually by the Charge Conference (paragraph 251.3 - page 177).
1. Can the Church Council develop term limits on these positions over what the Book of Disciple prescribes? I don't believe that the Charge Conference was aware of this change, assuming it was done. When the Nominations Committee meets annually, the Lay Leader and the Chair express their desire to serve again. It then is up to the Charge Conference to vote "yes" or "no." Is this correct?
2. Since the Book of Discipline does not state a time limit as to when the lay leader is elected, is this done annually?
1. I believe that the Charge Conference can make such decisions if there is no clear direction in the Book of Discipline.
2. I would recommend annual election In many instances of local church government prudent good sense serves well. The aim is for the congregation to work together effectively in keeping with the goals and visions of the church. Prudent reasoning together goes a long way in the Christian community.
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QUESTION: Thank you for your answer. The problem involves a struggle over how long a lay leader and the Chair of the Church Council (separate people)can serve in their positions. Up until now, both were elected annually by the Charge Conference.
Our church is getting ready for its annual charge conference and nominations are being sought, including the positions of lay leader and Chair. Both were recently informed that they had served their three-year term, and other folks will be nominated. It was mentioned that a policy was passed a few years ago by the Church Council, and not the Charge Conference to limit the position to a three year term. No one remembers the policy (to my knowledge) except the person making the issue. At best, one person recalls that a similar policy may have passed a number of years ago, but it was not followed.
Further, since there is no existing policy that can be found, we do not know if persons can succeed themselves in these two positions. Recently, the Susquehanna Conference (of which we belong)voted down a proposal to limit the Chair of the Church Council to three years, thus upholding the annual election. That should handle this part of the issue.
The position of Lay Leader, as mentioned before, is elected by the Charge Conference. The Book of Discipline does not mention how often this occurs. The contention is that there is no limit, because the Book of Discipline mentions that the Lay Leader is exempt from the three year term limit in certain committees (for example, the Staff Pastor parish Relation Committee). This would indicate that the Lay leader could serve more than three years, if the Annual Charge Conference approved.
Part of the issue involves the thinking of selecting a lay leader who would also be the delegate to the Annual Conference. Although, the lay leader can be a delegate,the person usually is not THE lay delegate.
As you can surmise, a power struggle is going on. This sadly will affect our members, but we are trying to uphold our traditional past practice.
Thank you again for your help in this matter.
Let me suggesting "walking around what appears to be a problem" in order to see it from other perspectives. Problems often contain their own answers if people are open to innovation and surprises. Power struggles are so normal. I wish you the best in the process of examining options. Lead by your example of patience and kindness to the people involved.