Monday, December 5, 2011

Are the Wesleyans Moving to One General Superintendent?

The Wesleyan Church (the closest "sister denomination" to the Church of the Nazarene) may be changing their administrative structure come their 2012 General Conference.  At least, that is the proposal of their General Board.

The proposal would include reducing their number of General Superintendents from three to only one.

Such a change would raise some interesting and some practical questions.  For example, in their current structure (as I understand it), the General Superintendent is still the one who ordains their clergy.  (The fact that they have drifted far away from their Wesleyan/Methodist . . . and biblical? heritage by calling those so ordained, "ministers" rather than elders/presbyters is an issue for another time.)  -  My guess would be that such a change would place the authority to ordain back in the district/conference and in the hands of the District Superintendent.

From my perspective, that would be an interesting move, because, elsewhere, I have proposed that District Superintendents ought to be called upon to ordain in the Church of the Nazarene, when General Superintendents are unavailable.  (Currently, the presiding General Superintendent can delegate that responsibility in such rare cases, but to whom they are to delegate the act of ordaining is not specified.)

In some ways, this would demonstrate the correspondence of the District Superintendent to Bishop and General Superintendent to Archbishop, which really is the way that those positions seem to play out in at least The Wesleyan Church and the Church of the Nazarene.

Of course, one difference between the two denominations is that the Nazarene General Superintendents really are General Superintendents rather than simply "regional."  That is, due to the more "federated" structure of the worldwide Wesleyan Church, their General Superintendents are actually elected by regions, for regions.  On the other hand, the Church of the Nazarene is a global denomination wherein all of the General Superintendents are elected by the (global) General Assembly, and they all itinerate throughout the global denomination.  -  This move, should it happen, would make the United States much more like other world regions/nations within the worldwide Wesleyan Church.

One also wonders what impact this move would have on the regular joint meetings that take place between the Nazarene and Wesleyan Boards of General Superintendents.  I would assume that such meetings would continue, but without a Wesleyan Board of General Superintendents, would the meeting be expanded to include others from the denomination?

It will be interesting to see what the 2012 General Conference does.  It will also be interesting to see if this move will influence the Church of the Nazarene (or other Wesleyan-Holiness denominations.)  It has been noted that some within the Church of the Nazarene have favored reducing our number of General Superintendents.  (On the other hand, some have been in favor of expanding it; perhaps by doing away with our Regional Directors and replacing them with General Superintendents.)

Time will tell.  At this point, it is a proposal by the General Board.

The full story can be read, here.

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