Appointment Covenants

The Book of Discipline requires that deacons (ordained and commissioned) are appointed to "settings that allow fulfillment of their call and where supervision is provided with goals, evaluation, and accountability acceptable to the bishop, the Cabinet, and the Board of Ordained Ministry." A good way to establish these is through a mutually developed covenant.

As the Rev. Gwen Purushotham explains, “A covenant is a mutually created commitment to ministry . . . that binds the parties in a mutually agreed-upon process to see that particularly segments are done and reflected upon” (Watching Over One Another in Love, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 2010; p. 16).

The purpose is to clarify the ministries the staff person is responsible for, to couch them in the church’s specific mission goals; to describe how the Staff-Parish Relations Committee will support the staff person in accomplishing the mutually agreed-upon ministry goals; and to spell out reflection, feedback, and, for deacons, benefits and termination procedures.

With a mutually agreed-upon covenant, it is more likely that performance concerns and successes can be addressed early through a mutually agreed-upon process. It also will decrease the amount of misunderstandings about responsibilities, process, and roles. Successful ministry, which is made possible through partnership with all in the congregation (and the district superintendent), is more likely when written covenants are developed.

The recommendations in this section are informed by Watching Over One Another in Love. Please refer to the book for more information.

What’s in a covenant?

The covenant should include (but not be limited) to the following:

  • The deacon’s goals, based upon the vision and mission of the conference and of the church in its ministry context.
  • Provisions for periodic feedback (who convenes the meetings, how frequently will the deacon and SPRC meet, communication guidelines for giving and receiving feedback, etc.)
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Annual evaluation process
  • List of who receives feedback and evaluation reports
  • Statement of how the SPRC will support the deacon in meeting agreed-upon goals
  • Other specific expectations related to ministry performance
  • In cases of cross-racial or cross-cultural appointments, steps to foster understanding of cultural and racial differences, especially as they related to feedback
  • A process for handling grievances and conflicts
  • Reiteration of the Disciplinary process for termination (90-day notice; prior consultation with the deacon, the SPRC and prior notification of the district superintendent, and the bishop)

Find a sample outline in Watching Over One Another in Love.

PDF icon Sample Covenant for Secondary Appointment

PDF icon Sample Covenant for Primary Appointment

PDF icon Appointment Covenants for Deacons

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