Friday, October 28, 2016

General Assembly Resolution on The Superintendency and Ordination

SUPREINTENDENCY/ORDINATION                                                                307.4, 536.5




307.4.  Have discretionary power to ordain, or appoint other[s] elders (preferably another general superintendent, general superintendent emeriti or retired) to ordain, those who have been duly elected to be elders or deacons. (314.1, 320, 536.5-536.6) 


536.5  The candidate elected to the order of elder or order of deacon shall be ordained by the laying on of hands of the general superintendent and ordained [ministers] elders with appropriate religious exercises, under the direction of the presiding general superintendent. (307.4)



1.  We, along with Wesley and the larger Methodist tradition, have understood that “Bishops and
     Presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right to ordain” (Wesley’s Sept.
     10, 1784 letter “To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North-America”).  That is to say,
     the power to ordain is found within the order of elders.  There is not a separate “order of bishop”   
     or “superintendent.”  Nevertheless, we, along with others in the larger Methodist tradition, have
     reserved the authority to ordain, within our denominations, to those elders who have been elected
     to the episcopal office/role of superintendent.  (Episkopos, which is usually translated “bishop,” is
     understood to mean “overseer,” or “superintendent,” which is the term that we and some other
     Wesleyan denominations use for the episcopal role.)

 2.  For the Church of the Nazarene, the episcopal aspect of our government is expressed through the
      general superintendency (cf., the “Foreword,” and par. 22.2, 306.f, 314.f, and 315.f).

 3.  It would be highly desirable that ordinations, if not being performed by the general superintendent
      in jurisdiction, be performed by another general superintendent (active, emeriti, or retired), in as
      much as they represent the whole church.

 4.  When the general superintendent in jurisdiction is not able to ordain, and when no other general
     superintendent is able to ordain, it would be highly desirable that one vested with the authority to  
     oversee the district (i.e., the district superintendent) be the person appointed to ordain.

 5.  In no case should anyone other than an ordained elder be appointed to ordain, for ordination must
      be passed along by one already ordained as elder.  The power to ordain is found within the order
      of elders. This is seen in 2 Timothy 1:6, which, referring to Timothy’s ordination, says, “For this
      reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my
      hands;” (NRSV), and most especially in the parallel passage of 1 Timothy 4:14, which says, “Do
      not neglect the gift that is in you which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of
      hands by the council of elders” (NRSV, emphasis mine).  This is also why it has historically been
      the presbytery (i.e., elders, rather than deacons) who have joined the bishops (i.e., general
      superintendents) in the laying on of hands.
  6.  As the paragraph currently reads, it would be possible (even if unlikely) that a general
       superintendent could appoint someone outside of holy orders to ordain.  Such would be
       completely and wholly inconsistent with the historic Christian and Wesleyan and Nazarene
       understanding of ordination.

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