Any member of the clergy who is expelled or withdraws from local church membership when he or she is not in good standing may reunite with the Church of the Nazarene only with the consent of the district assembly of the assembly district from which he or she withdrew or was expelled. Should two appeals for restoration to either church membership or ministerial standing be denied, a request may be granted by the Board of General Superintendents to transfer responsibility for restoration to another district where placement may be considered. If all appeals for credential restoration are denied, an ordained minister may become a layperson, upon approval of the District Advisory Board. (537.4)
If for any reason the name of an elder or deacon shall be removed from a district assembly roll, that elder or deacon shall not be recognized in any other district without having secured the written consent of the district assembly from whose roll his or her name was removed, except as provided for in paragraph 538. (The District Advisory Board may act on a request of transfer of jurisdiction between assemblies.)
When an elder or deacon in good standing has filed his or her credential, such credential may, at any subsequent time when the elder or deacon is in good standing, be returned to the elder or deacon upon order of the district assembly where it was filed, provided that the return of his or her credential shall have been recommended by the district superintendent and the District Advisory Board. Between district assemblies, a District Advisory Board may vote to approve the return of a minister’s filed credential.
When an elder or deacon in good standing has resigned his or her order of ministry according to 537.1 and 537.8, he or she may be restored to said order by the district assembly, upon filling out the Ordination/Recognition Questionnaire, reaffirming the vows of ministry, and after examination by and the favorable recommendation of the District Ministerial Credentials Board and upon approval by the general superintendent in jurisdiction.
When an elder or deacon in good standing has united with another church, denomination, or ministry, or has, for any other reason, been dropped from the roll of ministers, and subsequently wishes to be reinstated, the request may be considered by the appropriate district board(s) and the district assembly upon prior approval by the general superintendent in jurisdiction.
When an ordained minister is deceased whose credential was filed and who was in good standing at the time of death, the minister’s family may, upon written request to the general secretary, and approval by the district superintendent of the district where such filing is recorded, receive said minister’s certificate of ordination.
Any time a member of the clergy ceases to be entitled to exercise the rights and privileges of being a member of the clergy, the Ministerial Credentials Board will prepare a written report concerning the facts and circumstances of the change in status. The report shall include the recommendations of the Ministerial Credentials Board concerning whether or not a plan of rehabilitation is appropriate. Each district is encouraged to have a written plan in harmony with the Manual directives, to aid in the process of response, rehabilitation, reconciliation and possible restoration to ministry, of a member of the clergy involved in conduct unbecoming a minister. If a plan for rehabilitation is appropriate, the Ministerial Credentials Board shall, to the extent practical, work with the individual to apply the district plan for rehabilitation. The objective of the plan should be to return the individual to a place of spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. Primary responsibility for accomplishing the plan shall rest on the person being rehabilitated, but the facilitator(s) shall represent the church in providing support and assistance. The facilitator(s) or their designee shall report to the Ministerial Credentials Board once each quarter concerning the progress toward rehabilitation. The report shall be in the form established by the Ministerial Credentials Board. The Ministerial Credentials Board may revise the plan of rehabilitation from time to time as the circumstances warrant.
A member of the clergy who is not in good standing shall not preach, teach a Sunday School/Bible study/small group class, or hold any other position of trust or authority in the church or worship services, and shall not be given any ministerial role unless the District Advisory Board, the Ministerial Credentials Board, the district superintendent, and the general superintendent in jurisdiction determine that the individual has made sufficient progress toward rehabilitation to warrant once again allowing the individual to be of service in a position of trust or authority. Those considering approval shall carefully consider whether or not the individual who has lost good standing has appropriately repented of his or her misconduct. True repentance involves a deep sense of personal guilt coupled with a change of conduct which continues for a length of time sufficient to be evidence that the change is likely to be permanent. Approval to serve in a position of trust or authority may be granted with or without restrictions. (605.1–605.2, 605.5, 605.11–605.12)
A member of the clergy who has lost good standing may be restored to good standing and have his or her credential restored only by the following process:
- approval of the district superintendent;
- approval of the District Ministerial Credentials Board;
- a two-thirds approval of the District Advisory Board;
- approval of the Board of General Superintendents; and
- final approval of the district assembly where good standing was lost.
In considering whether or not to recommend that a credential be restored, progress on the plan of rehabilitation shall be the primary issue but passage of time shall be an additional consideration.
However, in the event the member of the clergy has committed sexual misconduct, the member of the clergy shall not be eligible to apply for restoration until four years have passed. A member of the clergy who has lost good standing as a result of sexual misconduct, must satisfactorily progress on a prescribed plan for rehabilitation for a minimum of four years, before good standing may be restored. (605.1–605.2, 605.5, 605.11–605.12)
Some types of misconduct are rarely the result of a one-time moral lapse, such as sexual misconduct involving children, or of a homosexual nature, or repeated marital infidelity. Individuals guilty of sexual misconduct that involves a high probability of repeated misconduct should not be restored to good standing. These individuals also should not be permitted to serve in any position of leadership, trust, or ministry in the local church. (605.1–605.2, 605.5, 605.11–605.12)