Retired pastors are now able to be re-engaged to serve the church, after changes to The Book of Discipline – also known as the rule book of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) – were approved recently. This happened during the recent Special Session of the General Conference (GC) on 25 Sept 2014.
The change was made a week ahead of the announcements of the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) initiative to encourage the re-engagement of employees past 65 years old.
Pastors, who become retired ministers once they are 65, now have an explicit process to be re-engaged by their respective Annual Conferences (AC) if they accept an offer of re-engagement from their AC. While they remain ineligible to be elected as President or Bishop, they can serve other positions.
Re-engaged pastors will also not be able to vote at the AC after eight regular annual sessions have passed since they first retired, unless they are re-engaged into active service, are chairing an AC board or are members of a specified AC board.
“We welcome this change, because we need more pastors in ETAC,” said the Rev R. Prabhu, President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC).
“If they are physically and mentally fit, we don’t mind engaging them on a year-to-year basis. In fact, we are already using some of these retired pastors in other areas, such as the Board of Ministry, and mentoring and supervising new pastors.”
Referring to the government’s initiative to hire people after 65, the Rev Prabhu noted that it has to be done carefully, as “pastors’ work is different from government work”. Pastors have to understand the workload, and know that it is a full-time engagement, not a second or third career or a retirement job. It can be done if they understand this structure and the responsibilities of re-engaged pastors, he added.
The suggestion to re-engage retired pastors for service was first raised by a Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) representative in 2012. The process and details by which retired pastors can be re-engaged have also been specified and approved during this same Special Session in September 2014.
Chia Hui Jun is Editorial Executive of Methodist Message and worships at Foochow Methodist Church. She put this article together with valuable input from Mr Kim Seah, Chairman of the Discipline Revision Commission, and Mr Lim Soo Chin, General Conference Secretary of The Methodist Church in Singapore.