Dismissal of a Minister in Bylaws

Shattered clear glass in a web pattern

Ministerial transition is a reality of both congregational and ministerial life. Ideally, good communication of needs and expectations lead to seasons of fruitful ministry with mutual endings. The shape of these healthy endings should be spelled out in the Letter of Agreement between minister and congregation.

There are times when the parting is difficult. Perhaps there is misconduct, bullying, policy violation, or even "retiring in place."

Congregations should include bylaws provisions that enable the congregation to terminate the covenantal relationship when the trust and confidence in the minister has been compromised or eroded. If a minister has lost confidence by even a quarter of the congregation the ministry is effectively over, so consider a percentage closer to 25% than 50%.

Sample Provisions

  • The minister may be dismissed by a ##% vote of the qualified members of the church present at any meeting legally called for that purpose, quorum for such a meeting to be constituted by ____ (##%) of the voting members.
  • The Minister's services may be terminated by a ##% vote by secret ballot of those present and voting at a Special Meeting of the congregation. Such a meeting may be called by the Board or upon written petition of twenty (20) members. Quorum and notice for such a meeting shall be the same as for that in calling a minister.