¶816 SEPARATION, DIVORCE AND THE MINISTRY
A person who has been divorced or is married to a spouse previously divorced, shall not be admitted to ministerial candidacy, nor to the conference, nor by transfer, nor allowed to be under any type of appointment unless cleared by the MEGaP committee. (See ¶4184.108.40.206.). Divorce shall not in itself bar a person from consideration for conference membership, or for an appointment.
When there is marital stress and conflict in a ministerial marriage, ministers are urged to initiate early intervention and to take proactive steps to access, in consultation with conference leadership resources to receive professional help for healing the relationship. If the conflict escalates to the point where it is no longer advisable or healthy for the couple to continue to live together and separation becomes necessary, the minister must immediately apply to the official board for a paid leave of absence so that he/she can focus on regaining marital health.
If the leave of absence is granted and the ministerial couple has not reconciled as the end of the leave of absence approaches, the bishop or designate will meet separately with the pastor and the board to assess the advisability of the pastor returning to serve at the church while separated. If it is agreed that the pastor can continue, the pastor will need to agree to an ongoing month-to-month probationary relationship with the local church, the terms of which (e.g. performance/ accountability expectations), will be laid out in writing. If the separation eventually results in a divorce, the following guidance is to be followed.
A minister, who is divorced, must provide MEGaP with a statement of the circumstances of the divorce and be cleared by MEGaP before being considered for an appointment (See 430.2.8.).
He/she also may not remarry unless MEGaP has cleared them. If a minister’s fiancé(e) has been divorced, his/her fiancé(e)’s divorce must be cleared by MEGaP prior to marrying. A minister who marries contrary to these guidelines shall be subject to discipline and shall not be re-appointed by the conference until cleared by MEGaP.
If the divorce of a minister (or his/her new spouse) is not cleared, he/she is not in good standing with the conference and shall withdraw from and return his/her credentials to the conference. He/she can be approved for lay membership in a local church.