The perpetuity and effectiveness of the Church of the Nazarene depend largely upon the spiritual qualifications, the character, and the manner of life of its members of the clergy. Members of the clergy aspire to a high calling and function as anointed individuals in whom is placed the church’s trust. They accept their calling knowing that they will be held to high personal standards by those to whom they minister. Because of the high expectations placed upon them, the members of the clergy and their ministry are peculiarly vulnerable to any accusation of misconduct. It is therefore incumbent upon members to use the following procedures with the biblical wisdom and maturity that befits the people of God.
Section: Contested Discipline of a Member of the Clergy
If a member of the clergy is accused of conduct unbecoming a minister, or of teaching doctrines out of harmony with the doctrinal statement of the Church of the Nazarene, or of serious laxity in the enforcement of the Covenant of Christian Character or the Covenant of Christian Conduct of the church, such accusations shall be placed in writing and shall be signed by at least two members of the Church of the Nazarene who are at the time in good standing. Accusations of sexual misconduct cannot be signed by any person who consented to participate in the alleged misconduct. The written accusation must be filed with the district superintendent who shall present it to the District Advisory Board of the district where the accused has ministerial membership. This accusation shall become part of the record in the case.
The District Advisory Board shall give written notice to the accused that accusations have been filed, as soon as practical by any method which gives actual notice. When actual notice is not practical, notice may be provided in the manner which is customary for serving legal notices in that locality. The accused and his or her counsel shall have the right to examine the accusations and to receive a written copy of the same immediately upon request. (538.7–538.9)
A person’s signature on an accusation against a member of the clergy constitutes certification by the signer that, to the best of the signer’s knowledge, information and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, the accusation is well grounded in fact. (538.6–538.8)
When a written accusation is filed with the district superintendent and has been presented to the District Advisory Board, the Advisory Board shall appoint a committee of three or more assigned ordained ministers and not less than two (2) laypersons as the Advisory Board deems to be appropriate to investigate the facts and circumstances involved and report their finding in writing and signed by a majority of the committee. If after considering the committee’s report, it shall appear that there are probable grounds for charges, such charges shall be drawn up and signed by any two ordained ministers. The District Advisory Board shall give the accused notice thereof, as soon as practical, by any method which gives actual notice. When actual notice is not practical, notice may be provided in the manner which is customary for serving legal notices in that locality. The accused and his or her counsel shall have the right to examine the charges and specifications and to receive a copy thereof immediately upon request. No accused shall be required to answer charges of which he or she has not been informed as specified herein. (222.3)
If, after investigation it appears that an accusation against a member of the clergy is without factual basis and has been filed in bad faith, the filing of the accusation may be grounds for disciplinary action against those who signed the accusation.
In case charges are filed, the District Advisory Board shall appoint five assigned ordained ministers and not less than two (2) laypersons as it deems advisable of the district to hear the case and determine the issues; these persons so named shall constitute a District Board of Discipline to conduct the hearing and dispose of the case according to the laws of the church. No district superintendent shall serve as prosecutor or as assistant to the prosecutor in the trial of an ordained minister or licensed minister. This Board of Discipline shall have power to vindicate and absolve the accused in connection with said charges or to administer discipline commensurate with the offense. Such discipline may provide for discipline intended to lead to the salvation and rehabilitation of the guilty party. The discipline may include repentance, confession, restitution, suspension, recommendation for removal of credential, expulsion from the ministry or membership of the church, or both, public or private reprimand, or any such other discipline that may be appropriate including suspension or deferment of discipline during a period of probation. (222.4, 538.6–538.8, 605.11–605.12)
If either the accused or the District Advisory Board shall so request, the Board of Discipline shall be a Regional Board of Discipline. The regional board for each case shall be appointed by the general superintendent in jurisdiction of the district where the accused minister holds his or her membership.
It is provided that in no case shall disciplinary action be taken against a missionary by a Phase 1 district as such.
The decision of a Board of Discipline shall be unanimous, written and signed by all members, and shall include a finding of “guilty” or “not guilty” as to each charge and specification.
Any hearing by a Board of Discipline herein provided for shall always be conducted within the bounds of the district where the charges were filed at a place designated by the board that is to hear the charges.