Synod Supports Including Commissioned Pastors at Broader Assemblies

The BCO amendment outlined in R 17-21 will go to classes for approval

Date Posted: 
Monday, June 12, 2017

On Monday, June 12, General Synod voted in support of a change to the Book of Church Order that would allow commissioned pastors to be voting members of consistory, classis, regional synod, and General Synod. 

Commissioned pastors are elders who are called to fill a specific ministry need. That might mean serving as a church staff member, church planter, or hospice worker. They are commissioned to a particular role and can only serve within the boundaries of the classis that calls them. Before their installation, they complete a training and study program approved by the classis.

Currently, commissioned pastors cannot serve as voting delegates to regional synod or General Synod. They can attend General Synod as corresponding delegates who cannot vote, make motions, or be elected to office. 

If two-thirds of the classes approve the amendment, commissioned pastors will be able to participate as elders in assemblies like General Synod. 

Delegates met in all-synod advisory committees to discuss the recommendation on Friday. Read the full report of the summarizing team. The majority of the committees advised support for the amendment. They also brought forth several additional recommendations:

  • To instruct the Commissions on Church Order and Theology to investigate the title of commissioned pastor, including proposing a new designation if appropriate (R 17-62).
  • To request that stated clerks discuss best practices for training and compensating commissioned pastors at their next meeting (R 17-63).
  • To direct the general secretary to oversee a video project that gathers stories of commissioned pastors (R 17-64).

All of these recommendations passed.