I. The Offices of the Church
B. The Ministers of the Word
A. Nominating Ministers Who Have Served Their Present Churches Less Than Two Years
The synod judges that councils of vacant churches when nominating, should not place in nomination the names of ministers who have served their present churches less than two years, unless there are very special and weighty reasons. And if the counselor deems it necessary, in the name of classis, to approve a nomination bearing the name of a minister having served the present church less than two years, the counselor shall give an account of such action to the classis.
(Acts of Synod 1916, p. 29)
B. Calling Same Minister Within a Year
Calling the same minister twice for the same vacancy may not take place within a year without the advice of classis.
(Acts of Synod 1906, p. 16)
C. Calling Ministers for a Specified Term of Service
1. If the letter of call designates a specific term, the letter shall also include a statement concerning the possibility and method for reappointment and the financial arrangements which will be made in the event that the appointment is not extended beyond the specified term.
2. The church’s counselor, on behalf of classis, shall make sure the termination procedures and arrangements stated in a letter of call are fair and reasonable.
3. When a call is terminated following the procedure agreed to in the letter of call, the minister shall be eligible for a call for a period of two years, after which time the classis, with the concurring advice of the synodical deputies, shall declare the minister to be released from the ministerial of ce. For valid reasons the classis, with the concurring advice of the synodical deputies, may extend the minister’s eligibility for call on a yearly basis.
(Acts of Synod 1987, p. 575)
4. When a term call is extended to a candidate, it shall ordinarily include a term of service of not less than two years.
(Acts of Synod 2000, p. 712)
D. Calling Ministers from the Reformed Church in America
1. A church may call a minister of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) with due observance of the relevant rules that govern the Orderly Exchange of Ordained Ministers (Cf. Acts of Synod 2005, p. 741). This shall apply only to a church that continues to have a viable ministry.
2. Orderly exchange is intended for ordained ministers of the other denomination to engage in extended service with an indefinite or long-term call in a church (the inviting church) while remaining a member of their own church that holds their ministerial credentials.
3. An ordained minister of the CRC, in good standing, is eligible to engage in extended service (a call) in the RCA and an ordained minister of the RCA, in good standing, is eligible to engage in extended service (a call) in the CRC.
4. Extended service is understood to mean that an ordained minister of the CRC may be invited to serve as a minister of an RCA congregation for an extended period of time while maintaining status as an ordained minister of the CRC, and, vice versa, a minister of the RCA may be invited to serve as a minister of a CRC congregation for an extended period of time while maintaining status as an ordained minister of the RCA. Such a person would preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in a manner consistent with the polity of the inviting church.
5. Orderly exchange allows an ordained minister to express the desire, through appropriate channels, to serve in another denomination as an ecumenical witness. However, orderly exchange is always at the invitation of the inviting church and subject to that church’s polity.
6. To be able to serve in another church, an ordained minister will demonstrate to the appropriate body of the inviting church a knowledge of and appreciation for the theological and liturgical identity, history, polity, and discipline of the church.
7. Approval for extended service must be done in consultation with and with the concurrence of the sending body. (In the CRC, the sending body is the calling church council; in the RCA, it is the classis holding the pastor’s membership.) The minister remains accountable to the sending body for continuation of ministerial status. In the event of termination of a call, the polity of the calling church shall be followed, in consultation with the sending church.
(Acts of Synod 2014, pp. 564-65)
8. Responsibility for the pastoral care of ordained ministers and their families is to be initiated by the served congregation, which will also inform both the sending and inviting bodies of the CRC and the RCA, which will then share in that pastoral care.
9. The ordained minister is subject to the supervision of the sending body with regard to matters of discipline. The inviting body shall have oversight of the congregation in which the minister serves. Both the inviting and sending bodies shall be in communication and participate as appropriate.
10. Each church will make provision for an ordained minister’s being granted participation in the appropriate bodies of the church in which he/she is serving (the inviting church). (Cf. Article 38-g and its Supplement.)
11. All ordained ministers shall continue to participate in the pension and benefits program of the denomination that holds their ministerial credentials (the sending church). The inviting church has the obligation to cover the pension and benefit costs. (Cf. Article 38-g and its Supplement.)
(Acts of Synod 2005, pp. 741-42)
12. It is important to the faithful and orderly exchange of ordained ministers that one who would serve in a congregation of another church first be formed and educated for ministry in one’s own tradition and have experience in serving in that church’s ordained ministry. Such experience and grounding in one’s own tradition are seen to be essential prior to serving in a setting of another tradition; therefore, such service is not intended for a first call.
(Acts of Synod 2011, p. 824)
E. Calling Ministers from Other Denominations
1. A church may consider calling a minister of another denomination only if it has put forth a sustained and realistic effort to obtain a minister from within the Christian Reformed Church or the Reformed Church in America. This shall apply only to a church which continues to have a viable ministry.
(Acts of Synod 2005, p. 742)
2. A minister of another denomination desiring to be declared eligible for a call to a Christian Reformed church shall make application to the Candidacy Committee. Once the application has been filed, the procedures prescribed by the Candidacy Committee in the “Journey Toward Ordination” document shall be followed.
3. A council shall not nominate a minister from another denomination for a call without the approval of its classis and the Candidacy Committee.
4. The need for calling a minister of another denomination shall be acknowledged when:
a. The minister to be called has such extraordinary qualifications that the church recognizes that it would be important for the denomination to acquire the minister’s service, or,
b. The need of a particular congregation for a pastor is so urgent that it can be met only by calling a minister from another denomination, or,
c. The minister is a new-church developer and is being called to start a new church, or
d. There is a need for indigenous leadership in a multicultural or ethnic minority church.
5. At the scheduled colloquium doctum, the applicant or nominee shall present a testimonial from the council or classis or presbytery by the Candidacy Committee, concerning the applicant’s or nominee’s purity of doctrine and sanctity of life.
(It is conceivable that just because the applicant is loyal to the Word and the creeds that the minister is adjudged persona non grata by their own ecclesiastical assemblies and that the minister would not be granted such a testimonial. Should such be the case, a careful preliminary investigation must be made by the classis in consultation with the synodical deputies. The report of this investigation, if satisfactory to the classis and synodical deputies, will serve under such circumstances in lieu of the testimonial.)
6. The following criteria shall be applied for approving or disapproving the proposed nominee or applicant:
a. soundness of doctrine
b. sanctity of life
c. knowledge and appreciation of Christian Reformed practice and usage
7. When ministers from other countries are being proposed for nomination or request an examination to be made eligible for call, the Candidacy Committee shall use the following additional criteria:
a. ability to speak, or learn, the English language
b. ability to adjust to the American/Canadian situation
c. age limit of forty years (as a general rule)
8. The proposed nominee or applicant, having sustained the examination and having received the approbation of the synodical deputies, may now be called or declared eligible for call, as the case may be. No further examination or colloquium doctum will be required.
(Adapted from Acts of Synod 1984, pp. 642-43)
F. Determination of Need
1. Synod directs the Candidacy Committee to take specific and special note of the “need” factor when requested to give their advice to the councils and/or classes in the calling of ministers from other denominations and in declaring ministers from other denominations available for call in the Christian Reformed Church at their own request.
2. Synod requires of the councils and/or classes such written specification of the “need” for approving such ministers and their calling as will satisfy the Candidacy Committee in their decision, which written specification shall then become part of the report of the Candidacy Committee to be submitted for synodical approval.
G. Joint Ministry of Ministers from Churches in Ecclesiastical Fellowship
Ministers of denominations in ecclesiastical fellowship with the Christian Reformed Church may be called by way of exception to serve in the Christian Reformed Church while jointly serving ministries within their own denominations. This arrangement requires the approval of classis and the concurrence of the synodical deputies. The specific need for their services must be demonstrated and the pension fund arrangements must be satisfactorily met in the denomination holding the minister’s credentials.
Ministers of denominations in ecclesiastical fellowship who so serve churches in the Christian Reformed Church will be accorded the right of delegation to classis and participation in classical committee work for the duration of their time of service in the Christian Reformed Church. This right of delegation and participation shall not extend beyond the boundaries of the classis.
The Christian Reformed Church will by way of exception allow its ministers to be called by a congregation of a denomination in ecclesiastical fellowship if such a minister jointly serves in a congregation of the denomination in ecclesiastical fellowship and in a congregation of the Christian Reformed Church.
(Acts of Synod 1997, p. 663)