Article 13 — Retirement of ministers
If a minister of the Word, by reason of age, sickness or otherwise, is rendered incapable of performing the duties of his office he shall retain the honour and title of minister of the Word. He shall also retain his official bond with the church which he served last, and this church shall provide honourably for his support. The same obligation exists towards a minister’s widow and orphans.
A minister of the Word is a minister for the entire duration of his life.
However, there can be certain reasons why he will no longer be able to discharge the duties of his office to the fullest extent.
The first reason is that of age. In our churches and in some of our foreign sister-churches ministers have the right to retire at the age of sixty-five.
Another reason is chronic illness.
The term “otherwise” leaves the door open for other possibilities, e.g. disability as the consequence of an accident.
This article covers also the retirement of those ministers who are set apart for the training of students in the ministry of the Word.
The nature of the retirement of a minister of the Word is that he is relieved from the duties of his office. However, a retired minister remains a minister, and can be occasionally invited to preach God’s Word, administer the sacraments, etcetera.
Another consequence of the principle is that he is and continues to be a minister, is that the church he has served until his retirement must continue their financial support of him.
It is a matter of course that the same obligation also applies to widows and orphans of the minister.
Our churches would be well advised to initiate funds for this purpose, at the earliest possible opportunity.
Usually the honorarium of a retired minister is less than that of an active minister. Hereby it is sometimes forgotten that most ministers, upon their retirement, are not in a position to buy a house for themselves. It would be a good thing if the consistories made timely provision in this respect.
Another consequence of the above-mentioned principle is that the minister-emeritus, in comparison to the minister who is called to replace him, is the ‘first’ and the latter the ‘second’ minister.
This means that if a congregation met with difficulties in financially supporting both ministers, she would have to request the assistance of the sister-churches for the financial support of the replacing minister.
Retirement procedure, according to Article 14, is as follows:
1. The minister requests his consistory in writing to relieve him from the duties of his office, giving the reason for this request.
2. The consistory, having considered this reason, grants him his request and declares him an emeritus at a time agreed upon by both parties; and issues him with an appropriate certificate.
3. The classis is informed and requested to approve the action, having been supported by the deputies of the synod appointed for this purpose.
4. The classis and the deputies ensure that there are sufficient reasons to declare the minister concerned an emeritus, and in consequence make sure that the consistory will indeed support the minister-emeritus honourably.
5. A certificate is issued by the classis and the deputies both to the minister and the consistory.