Pastoral relations policies govern search, selection, calls, and appointments between ministers and United Church communities of faith.

The 43rd General Council (July 21–27, 2018) enacted the remits that pastoral charges and presbyteries passed. The General Council also passed GCE 11 New Pastoral Relations Covenant Policy, resulting in the following changes to our pastoral relations system:

  • The definition of covenant is expanded beyond three parties.
  • The needs assessment process is replaced with the use of profiles of ministry personnel and profiles of communities of faith.
  • The governing body of the community of faith is responsible for some pastoral relations actions and decisions that were previously the responsibility of a congregation, specifically:
    • decisions about supply appointments;
    • the responsibility to prepare the community of faith profile (replaces needs assessment);
    • the responsibility to notify the regional council of any proposed change in covenant, and to request a liaison.
  • The presbytery representative role is replaced with a regional council liaison as the regional council representative to communities of faith for pastoral relations/covenant processes.
  • The covenant hub is established and regularized as the required process for ministry personnel and communities of faith to search for calls and appointments. The United Church of Canada will support the Indigenous Church in being self-determining in whether or how they use the covenant hub. 

To learn more:

  • Register for  the free October 1 webinar, What You Need to Know about Pastoral Relations Right Now. For more information, see United in Learning. The same link will take you to a recording of the session afterwards if you can't take part on October 1.
  • Watch the video above, Transitioning to Our New Pastoral Relations System: An Update (a panel discussion that was broadcast on YouTube Live on April 30, 2018).
  • Read the Pastoral Relations Transition FAQs: June 2018, available under Downloads, below.
  • To see the pastoral relations policy proposal that went the 43rd General Council in July 2018, read GCE 11 New Pastoral Relations Covenant Policy in the Digital Workbook.
  • Additional updates related to the pastoral relations transition will be posted here over the fall.
  • To stay up to date on Remit Implementation in general, visit the Remit Implementation page and sign up for the Remit Implementation Newsletter.

Theological Grounding

In the church,
some are called to specific ministries of leadership,
both lay and ordered;
some witness to the good news;
some uphold the art of worship;
some comfort the grieving and guide the wandering;
some build up the community of wisdom;
some stand with the oppressed and work for justice. (A Song of Faith)

A community of faith, like any community, changes.
When a minister comes into a community of faith
a covenant is made; a promise to walk together as God’s people,
deepening our commitment to Jesus Christ
and growing closer to God.
God’s covenant with us never changes,
but our covenants with one another do change.
(Book of Worship, United Church of Christ, adapted; Celebrate God’s Presence: A Book of Services, p. 696)

To embody God’s love in the world,
the work of the church requires the ministry and discipleship
of all believers. (A Song of Faith)

Implementation Timeline

  • October 1, 2018
    Webinar: What You Need to Know about Pastoral Relations Right Now; sign up at United in Learning
  • Fall 2018
    DRAFT version of three pastoral relations resources—Pastoral Relations: Supporting the Pastoral Relationship; Pastoral Relations: Community of Faith; and Pastoral Relations: Ministry Personnel—available online
  • November 2018
    First trials of Church Hub (watch for your e-mail invitation)
  • November–December 2018
    Profiles of ministry personnel and communities of faith are moved onto Church Hub
  • January 1, 2019
    New regional councils are in place; The Manual, 2019, available online
  • January 2019
    FINAL pastoral relations resources available

Guidelines and Policies

What is pastoral relations policy?
“Ordered ministers and designated lay ministers while in paid accountable ministry positions are office holders within The United Church of Canada. While there may be elements similar to employment, the essential nature of the relationship is a covenant.” From Statement on Ministry in The United Church of Canada (2012).

The special status of ministry personnel requires the church to write policy that governs the paid accountable ministry relationship between ministry personnel and communities of faith. The policy that governs this relationship is pastoral relations policy.

Pastoral relations policy governs search, selection, calls, and appointments between ministry personnel and communities of faith within The United Church of Canada. Pastoral relations policy is set by the General Council and implemented cooperatively by communities of faith and regional councils.

The covenant hub is established and regularized as the required process for ministry personnel and communities of faith to search for calls and appointments. The United Church of Canada will support the Indigenous Church in being self-determining in whether or how they use the covenant hub.

For current policies, see the Ministry Vitality page or the Handbooks and Guidelines page.

For more information please contact:

Wendy CranstonProgram Coordinator Ministry Personnel Administration416-231-7680 ext. 3113
1-800-268-3781 ext. 3113
wcranston [at] united-church.ca
Remits1-800-268-3781remits [at] united-church.ca