Article 15 — Bound for life
A minister of the Word, once lawfully called, is bound to the service of the church for life and therefore not allowed to enter upon another vocation unless it be for exceptional and substantial reasons. The decision of his consistory to relieve him of his office in order to enter upon another vocation shall receive the approval of classis, with the concurring advice of deputies of synod.
Ministers are human beings, and they may be tempted to resign their office when instances of extreme difficulties could affect their health, and they could obtain a more ‘lucrative’ position in society, or even when they desire to avoid church discipline.
However, our Church Order makes provision for other possibilities. A
minister of the Word could, e.g., be appointed to an important political function in which he would be able to contribute considerably to the well-being of the country. He could also be appointed as a professor at a university or college.
This, then, is not only his own decision. The consistory and the classis together with the deputies of the synod – the same bodies which had their part in his admission to the ministry – are responsible for ensuring that there are indeed substantial reasons for him to enter upon another vocation.
It may be hardly necessary to say that in such cases the person concerned no longer has the right to call himself a minister.