A set of guidelines for clergy practice has been adopted by delegates to the Wyoming Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, which covers part of New York state and Pennsylvania.
The document stresses that when a pastor leaves a church, he or she should not return to perform weddings, baptisms, or other clerical duties without specific permission from the current pastor.
The document also contains a pledge to "endeavor to be intellectually honest in my preaching and teaching and give credit to the words and ideas used by others."
Although the guidelines are not enforceable, they were adopted in large measure to provide written standards by which to evaluate pastoral ministries.
The Rev. William Stanton of Vestal, N.Y., a member of the drafting committee, noted that "many professions have a code of ethics" and that the committee "reviewed as many codes as it could" in preparing the guidelines.
The document, prepared at the request of the 1977 session of the Wyoming Conference was submitted to pastors of the conference for review in January as a "code of ethics." One pastoral suggestion was to change the name from a code to a set of guidelines. The final draft was drawn in May.
Bishop James M. Ault of the Philadelphia area of the church, which includes the Wyoming Conference, said, "Keeping Jesus Christ's ministry in mind, no pastor will do anything contradicting the guidelines. The guidelines are not concerned with the egos of pastors but their ministry to Jesus Christ."