Article 13 speaks of the "retirement" of ministers. Two possibilities are mentioned.
In the first place there is the case in which a minister reaches an age that is considered sufficient reason for retirement. Unfortunately, Synod 1989 did not speak of "retirement age," but mentioned only "age." In the sphere of the secular courts such a term might give occasion to various courtcases as it is ill-defined or, better, not defined at all. What is this "age?" Is it what is generally considered to be the "retirement age?" Is it up to the minister to determine the moment when he has reached this "age?" It would have been better when the term "retirement age" had been used. The second possibility is that a minister is no longer able to fulfil the duties of his office because of disability or failing health.
Let us first speak about the possibility that a minister is no longer able to fulfil the duties of his office. Reasons for this can be of a physical or a non-physical nature. Physical illness may permanently disable him. Perhaps not all parts of the ministerial service become impossible for him to perform, but he is no longer able to function fully as he should and the congregation will suffer as a consequence. If, for instance, he should be blinded either by an accident or by a disease, he would be able to talk with members, to comfort and encourage them, to admonish and guide them, but how is he to reach their homes or to find his way around in a hospital? This handicap would force him to retire from the active ministry.
When dealing with the previous article we already referred to the possibility that he could no longer bear the burden of responsibility and, for instance, is plagued by severe headaches, brought on by tension. Thereby he would be practically disabled. However reluctantly, he would ask the consistory with the deacons to release him from his obligation to do the work of a minister, to declare him "minister-emeritus."
 The second part of this term is pure Latin. We all know the word "merit," which means: what one deserves, or: a service which one performs. The word "emeritus" may be translated as: one who has completed his service, a soldier who has completed his time in the army. Hence it can also mean: someone who has become unfit for use, unemployable. Speaking of a minister-emeritus we refer to a minister who has served his term of office, who has completed his required time as a minister. In the case we are speaking of at this point, this "required time" is determined by his being incapacitated as a result of illness or accident.
In Art. 13 the churches agreed that, even though the bond with the church remains in force, the obligation to do the work ceases for this reason. When physical disability is the cause, it will be obvious that release from active service must be given. It is more difficult in the case of non-physical disability.
Again we take into account that by nature we all are inclined to all evil. For this reason we have agreed upon safeguards to curb possible abuse. In case the disability is of a non-physical nature, it would be wise to obtain the testimony of two qualified physicians to ensure that a demand to continue the work would be demanding something the brother is unable to do. Expert advice would also make it easier for the consistory with the deacons to decide whether they are justified in granting the request. They will have no problem in cases where it is obvious to every one. They will be greatly helped by expert opinions in cases which they find hard to judge.
If a minister has to retire because of disability, the consistory with the deacons have to judge this first of all. Classical approval is needed, too, as well as concurrent advice of regional-synodical deputies. All this is necessary in order to prevent abuse of the possibility provided for in Art. 13. This possibility could be grasped as an opening to escape difficulties. The human heart is subtle, more than anything. Involvement of the federation does not provide iron-clad guarantees; on the other hand, it certainly helps to assure everyone that here is a genuine "case" of disability.This is the only reason for involvement of the federation. Since no release from the call is involved, only from the obligation to do the work, no approval or concurring advice would be needed if it had not been for this reason that the churches wish to ascertain that there is a genuine disability. Involvement of the federation would not be needed at all if a minister retires upon reaching retirement age. We'll speak more about this later.