Can a pastor deny a person membership? Plenary will debate

By a one-vote margin (29-28), the local church legislation committee will ask a plenary session to add a clause making it clear that the decision about an individual’s readiness to affirm the vows of membership rests with the pastor.
Under the proposal, a person who is denied membership may appeal that decision to the Pastor-Parish or Staff-Parish Relations Committee.


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  1. Curtis Rivers

    What a sad event. I would hope that the majority of that committee will not prevail, simply because this allows prejudice and abberant theological understanding to be given into the hands of a pastor on the subject of church membership. Who am I to ascettain the relationship between an individual and God, no matter what their sexual orientation?

    1. PerryA

      You are given the authority by Jesus Christ to discern if one is living a sinful lifestyle. Jesus gave to us the keys to the kingdom and with them a great responsibility. He states the authority given to us in Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

      The truth has been revealed to us and we are responsible. It may not always be easy and pleasant to hear, but the old saying deeply applies, “Sometimes the truth hurts.”

      1. Rev. Paul McKay

        So if a pastor learns that a member is having an affair–carrying on a sinful lifestyle–and it turns out to be true–does the pastor take steps to remove the member from membership, or what? If a pastor goes to that member in confidentiality and the member can’t bring himself or herself to stop the affair, or won’t, or says he or she will but carries on, what then? Does the pastor somehow de-member the person until they get out of sin? And aren’t we all living sinful lives, if not “lifestyles”? It seems to me that If that’s the determining measure for membership in a church, the rolls will thin out pretty fast.

  2. Charles Alkula

    On the other hand why shouldn’t the pastor have the right to determine who is allowed to join? Membership in the local church is a right, not a priviledge. Pastors should also have the right to determine when inactive members are dropped from the roll and those who cause harm to the cause of Christ.

    If clergy are to loose the guaranteed appointment in the name of ‘efficiency’ and the future of the church, then what are the laity giving up?

  3. Stephen pichaske

    At first glance, I really like this addition to the proposal, but also find myself asking if there should also be a provision for appeals to a congregation’s SPRC/PPRC if a pastor DOES offer membership to an individual. If we want checks and balances, shouldn’t it apply to both sides of the same coin?

  4. Mbwizu Ndjungu

    I agree with PerryA and Charles Alkula.
    God has given the keys to his word to pastors,but they need the spirit of discernment because the devil is at work in the church of God everyday.

  5. Kathleen

    If we are all living in sin as we are sinners and far from perfect it seems to me allowing any church much less a pastor the right to deny membership to anyone is absurd. Wesley ministered to the undesirable, those uneducated, illiterate, too poor to wear acceptable clothing and worked he went to the people and Methodism WAS a movement . As a denomination it has become haughty, high brow and judgmental. How can a church proclaim open hearts, open minds and open doors. The church is now becoming lead by the top down as opposed to the opposite as is was in the beginning. Church is not about the people anymore but about the building, the exceptional choir and now membership qualifications. The Profession of Faith is a statement of belief in God our Father and to living a life in relationship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. we are not able to see all our foibles at once because GOD reveals to us what HE knows we can bear at the time. There is no particular order in the revelations we receive as this is according to God’s will..

    Jesus told us mans’s law was not to superior God’s law yet we are now requiring a list of things acceptable and unacceptable? If we are all sinners we are not in a position to judge the degree of sinfulness and a pastor is held in higher accountability by God but remains a man/woman. Our roots are a laity lead people who preached and exhorted. Now it seems to be qualified we are moving as far away from that as possible and giving too much power to the ordained.

    We are all children of God in different states of sin and if a person is making an effort to establish or restore a relationship with God, who are we to determine when they have reached an acceptable state of grace. How do you expect someone to arrive at this acceptable state and develop this relationship if you bar them from the very thing that will help them even desire a deeper relationship?

    When sin occurred in the Garden of Eden, they hid in shame because they realized they were naked and that is what we do when we sin. Every sin moves us further from God but only God who knows every hair on our head knows when and what will allow us to suddenly see what we are doing is sinful.

    I see this entirely as a method of selecting acceptable people into the church and not at all what Jesus was teaching and Wesley intended as he began the movement. Only god knew it would be a movement Wesley was truly inspired by God.

  6. Vicki Yoder

    As I read this, these scriptures came to mind: (1) Matt 22:37-40 that ends with “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (loving God, loving people); (2) Romans 8:35,37-39 that begins “Who will separate us from the love of Christ….” and ends “…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to spearate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (3) Romans 11:32 “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.” (4) 2 Cor 5:18-19 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Remember, too, that John Wesley in his sermon “Catholic Spirit” says we do not need to be of one mind… though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? We do not have to have agreement. Who knows the mind of Christ? A single pastor? Join me in hoping that neither you nor I find ourselves outside the United Methodist fold because we no longer fit within the boundaries of our pastor. . .as a denomination let us proclaim open hearts, open minds and open doors; let us be committed to reconciling ALL to God!

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