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Call meetings

Call meetings are scheduled by the congregation in consultation with the district president. The call meeting is a special voters meeting that must be held in accordance with the provisions in the congregation's bylaws. Bylaws typically require a minimum amount of time to pass and a minimum number of announcements to be made between the calling of the meeting and its convening. The purpose(s) of the meeting must be clearly stated.

The call meeting is chaired by the congregational president. The district president or his representative will be present to provide the list of candidates and offer counsel.

It is common for the meeting to be open to all members of the congregation so that the voters may consider the insights of the entire body as they cast votes for candidates. 

Agenda

Opening devotion and prayer

The district president will begin the meeting with a brief devotion or Scripture reading and a prayer

Preliminary items

The district president will review the divine call and our church body's calling process as appropriate.

The congregation's president will review what the congregation is calling the pastor to do and what support the congregation is pledging itself to. He will also make any necessary comments on the compensation structure and the cover letter. (The congregation should be given the opportunity to review the cover letter before the first call is extended. If additional calls are extended, the congregational president may simply highlight any changes that have been made.)

Extending of the divine call

Before the district president distributes the call list, all participants should put away cell phones. The call list is confidential. No additional copies should be made or photos taken. No online searches should be made. All copies of the call list should be returned to the district president after the call is extended. 

After the list is distributed, the assembly should take a few minutes to look over it. Before any individual candidates are discussed, a motion should be made to accept or reject the list. If the list is accepted by the voters, discussion of the candidates may commence. If the list is rejected, no call will be extended. The district president will work with the congregation to schedule another meeting with a different list.

Depending on the size of the assembly, it may work well to break up into discussion groups. A mix of men and women in each group is beneficial so that the voters may consider the counsel of the entire assembly when casting their votes. After small-group discussion, plenary discussion is warranted before votes are cast.

The district president or congregational president will lead the group in prayer before votes are cast.

The congregation should have paper and pens on hand for secret ballots. Two people should be designated to count ballots together. Multiple rounds of voting may be necessary until a candidate receives a majority of ballots cast. The call is extended when a candidate receives a majority.

It is good practice to call for a unanimous vote for the majority candidate. The pastor-elect can have the confidence that the congregation is calling with a unified voice.

After the call is extended, all copies of the call list should be returned to the district president to be shredded. Since the call list is confidential, the names of the men not called should remain secret. It does no good for a pastor to discover that his name was on a list but was not called.

Do not inform anyone outside the meeting about who has been called until you receive approval from your congregational president. The pastor should learn of his call through your president, not through Facebook. Keep in mind that the pastor-elect may wait until the following Sunday to inform his current congregation of his call.

Other actions

Since compensation is set according to years of experience, the exact figures cannot be determined until after the call is extended. The congregation should delegate authority to its president and/or other leaders to make the final calculations according to the approved guidelines.

Depending upon the circumstances, the congregation may wish to grant a peaceful release to its current pastor of his call, to take effect on his last day of service.

The meeting may also be the appropriate time to extend an official call to a vacancy pastor or to make other decisions related to the vacancy. This business should be announced when the special voters meeting is scheduled.

Recessing or adjourning the meeting

Depending on its bylaws, recessing the call meeting may allow the congregation to issue another call on shorter notice, if necessary.

The district president or congregational president will close the meeting with prayer.

Communicating with the pastor-elect

The initial phone call

Immediately after the meeting, the congregational president calls the pastor-elect to notify him of the call. It is a brief conversation that covers the following topics:

  • Introduces himself and the name and location of the congregation

  • Informs the pastor that the congregation has just unanimously extended him a divine call

  • Informs the pastor how the call packet will sent and when it should arrive; confirms email and physical mailing address

  • Assures the pastor that the congregation will pray regularly for him and his current congregation and is looking forward to conversing with him

  • Asks the pastor when he plans to inform his congregation

  • Asks the pastor whether he has any immediate questions

 

If the pastor doesn't answer the phone, you may leave a message introducing yourself and asking him to return your call. Please do not inform him of the divine call until you are able to speak with him.

As soon as you inform him of the divine call, call, email, or text the district president to confirm that contact has been made.

The call packet

The call packet should be emailed or mailed within twenty-four hours of the call meeting. This timing requires that everything besides the pastor's name and compensation details be ready to go before the call meeting. Your timeliness will reflect well on your congregation.

Your district president suggests that the call packet be sent digitally. The signed, physical call form should also be sent by mail.

Follow-up

The congregation should be proactive with outreach to the pastor-elect. While most conversations will likely be held with congregational leaders, it is not out of place for other members to reach out via email or text with words of encouragement and offers to speak. 

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