CHAPTER IV. THE MINISTERS
1. TRAINEE MINISTERS
1. Before any person can be recommended as a Trainee Minister, that person must first become an Ordained Preacher for a year. The Head Minister can recommend that person, then voted by the Quarterly Meeting. To appoint the Trainee Ministers during the December Quarter. Another appointment to be held during the March Quarter in accordance with the required number for that year as anticipated by the President.
If the Quarterly Meeting approves any person to be a Trainee Minister, that person will be brought to the Regional Meeting and will be required to preach before those Ministers chosen to examine him. The assessment will be based on the specific scriptures directed by the Conference.
If the Chairing Minister recommends any person as Trainee Minister to the Regional Meeting, he shall also provide accompanying references of his good character, health, spiritual status, suitability to work for the Church, whether any debt is owing, and the like. That person will then be voted on by a show of hands and verbally assessed in Theology.
If any person is approved by the Regional Meeting as a Trainee Minister, that person’s name will be forwarded to the Conference, and shall later be assessed in his preaching as well as the accompanying references required by the Conference. Reports on those assessments shall be sent to the Conference, then voted, and approved by the majority of the Conference.
The Conference can decide whether the Trainee Ministers should be assigned to any Parish or stay as a reserve.
The names of the Trainee Ministers shall be recorded in the Conference Roll Book.
If any person is recommended as Trainee Minister, that person must attend a Theological College for three years and pass that study programme. Some will be called Theological College Students, and when the Conference requires any person to be a Trainee Minister, it shall be recommended from amongst the Ex-Students according to clauses 1,2,3,4. The Head of the Theological College and his Committee can advise the Regional Meeting and the Conference. The Trainee Minister shall sit his annual examinations in a period of 4 years. If at the completion of these four years, he had been responsible for a parish of a Minister for no less than two years, and totaling 6 years altogether, he would be considered as having completed his Probationary period and be Ordained.
The Conference can reduce the number of his probationary years for the following reasons:
(a) If any person has been a Conference Steward or a Teacher in any Church School for at least three years or more, one year will be reduced.
If any person has finished from any Theological College, one year will be reduced.
If any person has achieved a L.Th. Diploma from the Melbourne College of Divinity or the equivalent or more, one year will be reduced.
Notwithstanding the above clause stating that the Head of the Theological College can advise the Regional Meeting and the Conference with regards to accepting anybody who has not attended that Theological College; if that person has completed any Bible training which is the equivalent or more of that Theological College, or in any other reason that appeals to the
Committee, it shall still be in accordance with clauses 1,2,3, and 4 above.
If any Minister moves to another parish and wishes to resume his Ministerial position, the Meetings can check his Ministerial training background to see if he has the right qualifications. The Meetings can decide to recommend him to the Conference so that he can still maintain his position as Minister. The Conference of the Ministers can confirm this by a majority decision.
If any person has been approved by the Conference as a Probationary Minister but that person has failed his examinations due to limited ability, his Ministerial position shall not be dismissed as if he had been demoted due to transgressions.
The Demoted Minister will give a sermon only and is not to be reassessed or submit anything in writing.
The Trainee Ministers shall join every meeting of that church.
2. PROBATIONARY MINISTERS
A Probationary Minister is one of the Trainee Ministers assigned to any Parish, and the duration of his probation and training is a total of six years.
The Conference shall direct the biblical passages for him to learn, and he shall be assessed every year, and have an assessment sermon every year before those Ministers elected by the Conference for that purpose, and reports on those assessments shall be forwarded to the Conference.
Before any Probationary Minister can become a Minister, he will be tested in theology by the Regional Meeting, and also on the sermons of John Wesley. A report on his sermon shall be forwarded to that Meeting, and how he has worked in the Parish that he was in.
If the District Meeting wants to recommend any Probationary Minister to the Conference to be ordained, that person must attend that Conference, and he will give a testimony, and to explain his belief in the Doctrine and the Laws of the Church, and he will vow to uphold the laws and the Constitution. If at any time, he forsakes his belief in the Doctrines, or fails to uphold the laws, he will resign from his position.
Reports by the District Meeting on any Probationary Minister whom they are recommending shall be forwarded to the Conference, and the Conference decides whether he should continue being on probationary or lay any other decisions.
The names of those Probationary Ministers who have been affirmed at the Conference shall be recorded in the Conference Roll Book, together with the Conference's decisions about them.
If any Minister is affirmed, the President and the Chief Secretary together with two Elder Ministers shall lay hands on him in accordance with the ordaining process of the Wesleyan Church.
If any person is accepted by the Conference to become a Probationary Minister, but has not passed the required examination due to limited ability, he should not be stripped of his position as Minister in the same manner as of one who has transgressed.
The Minister who has transgressed can only give sermons, and is not to conduct any examinations or any recording.
To join the church Gatherings of the Probationary Ministers.
3. THE MINISTERS’ DUTIES
It is the duty of all Ministers to save the spirits of those in their Parishes, and to do their utmost to look after them really well in religious conduct, and to strive to be spiritually uplifting in their sermons. (See Counsels by Mr Wesley, pages 63-66).
It is the duty of the Head Minister and all Ministers to preach the Gospel, and to attend the church services, and to make sure that all jobs done in the chapels in their Parish are in conformity with the laws of the Church.
The Head Minister is the one in charge of the Parish, and he is to make sure that every job in the Parish is done in conformity with the Laws of the church.
The duties of the Head Minister:
(a) To appoint new Catechumen as well as to demote them.
(e) To chair the New Monthly Meeting, and can delegate to another Minister in his the case of being absent.
(f) To check if the Catechumen have paid for their membership ticket fees.
(h) To provide the Catechumen who move to other parishes with a letter to inform the Minister in the parish that they moved to.
(i)To visit people so as to counsel them about their spiritual lives.
(k) To visit the Classes, inspect the Roll Books, and to advise the people to keep the laws.
(l)To chair the Meeting to Declare matters about People every to inspect the
Catechumen’s Roll Books, and to report to the Quarterly Meetings.
(m) To chair the Preparatory Meeting, then forward its report to the Quarterly
(n) To monitor the rules regarding the sermons, church services, Sacrament, and the Conducting of baptisms, and Funerals in his Parish.
(ng) To collate the records of the Catechumen’s Roll Books, names of the Position Holders, and when moving to another Parish, he will hand these over to his Replacement.
i. All Duty Books belonging to the Church like those of the Meeting to Declare matters about People and the Trustees’ Meetings, or any other Duty Book, when finished with, to be handed to the Chairing Minister to keep.
ii. The Minister of the Parish to visit the Sunday School once a Quarter, and for the Inspector to inspect the lessons that have been started, and report on this to the Quarterly Meeting.
iii. The Ministers shall pay regular visits to the Church's Primary Schools as well as the Government Primary Schools under their Parish as permitted by the Government, no less than once a month, and they will be questioned about this in the Quarterly Meetings.
iv. To chair the Trustees’ Meetings in his Parish.
v. At the end of 10 years’ service, the Minister is entitled to a six months’ leave.
4. ASSIGNING OF THE MINISTERS TO THE PARISHES.
i. An Ordained Minister can accept the position of Minister to the King.
ii. The President will assign the Ministers every year, to the Parishes that he has assigned them to be responsible for. The President has the authority to transfer any Minister from his Parish or Department even though he has not completed his three years in that Parish.
iii. No Ordained Minister or Probationary Minister shall remain in any Parish for more than four years, unless for any grave reason, the Full Conference allows it. This rule excludes the Chairing Ministers and those Ministers holding positions in the Educational Institutions.
iv. If any Minister is assigned overseas, and he returns without any problems, he will still retain his position as a Minister.
v. The Conference can choose not to assign a Parish to a Minister, and the Conference can decide whether he should receive any salary or not.
vi. To count those Colleges that participate in the Higher Leaving Certificate Programme as Departments, and if any Probationary Minister is assigned there when Ministers are relocated, that Trainee Minister becomes a Probationary Minister, but to continue and complete the work of a Trainee Minister.
vii. To have a separate Minister to provide ongoing training for the Ministers (Continuing Education).
i. A Retired Minister is any person whom the Conference has allowed to retire from his duties.
ii. If any Minister reaches the age sixty-five years, he will be allowed to retire from doing any assigned work as a Minster at the next Conference, but must retire at the next Conference and when he reaches the age of seventy (70).
iii. The Conference can decide to retire any Minister, and he will abide by this decision whether he agrees with it or not.
iv. The name of the Retired Minister shall be recorded in the Conference Book and the Parish that he is living in. He will join the meeting of that Parish, and he will answer the call in the Regional Meeting (unless he has tendered an apology), and he will obey the decisions of the Church.
v. For all Ministers planning to retire in each Conference, to bring a report about themselves and their work to be included in the Minutes of the Conference.
THE JUDGING AND DEMOTING OF MINISTERS
i. If there is any matter relating to a Minster such as inappropriate behaviour, or the breaching the laws, or not following the Doctrine, the President or the Chairing Minister and the Conference Committee of the Ministers can question him, and have the authority to suspend him from his job, until the Quarterly Meeting of the Ministers is held who will be judging him. If it appears that the accusation is true, those Ministers can decide to demote him from his job, until the next Conference is held. And the Conference which has the authority to demote him or make any other decision.
ii. If a Minister is being suspended from his job awaiting judgment, he will not be receiving any salary during that time and if he is absolved after being judged, it is up to the Conference to make any decision relating to his wages.
iii. The Conference has the authority to demote any Minister from his position, and to decide to exclude him from the Conference because he has done something that is inappropriate, and for which the Conference deem it appropriate that he should step down from his position.
iv. If any Minister has been demoted, and will not be allowed to hold any position in the Church, unless otherwise decided by the Conference.
v. If there is anything Adverse about the President, or any Chairing Minister, the President or the Chairing Minister will appoint any of Elderly Ministers to take the place of the President and to be Chair in the Meeting of the Conference Committee of Ministers while they are being judged.
7. THE CHAIRMAN
(a) The President will appoint a Minister to be the Chairman in a District, and this position is to be confirmed each year.
(b) It will be the job of the Chairman to ensure that the work of the Church in his District is carried out in accordance with the Laws and the Constitution.
The duties of the Chairman:
(a) To determine the timing of the District Meeting, and he will Chair that Meeting, but if the President is present, then he may Chair the meeting.
(e) He will examine the Probationary Ministers, those who participate in that Meeting, and these are the questions:-
i. How are his actions and his religious conduct?
ii. Whether you believe in the Doctrines?
iii. Are you preaching it?
iv. Do you carry out our work?
v. Is he suitable for the work?
(f) To carry out the tasks of the Meeting in accordance with the decisions of the Conference.
(Refer to the Information about the District Meeting)
He has the task of keeping the records of the District Meetings in his Region.
It is his role to take to the Conference the decisions and requests of the Regional Meeting, and to provide a report about the work carried out in his Region that is related to the Ministers and the Church.
It is for the Chair to keep the money for the District, Parish and Trustees.
It is for the Chair to keep, make decisions and use the money for the various work of the Church the Parish and Parish money for the different work of the Church and with the approval and confirmation of the Committee Managing the Church fund.
8. THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CHURCH
(Full-time position in the Church)
1. The growth and improvement of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga will occur if the Leaders are knowledgeable in the Tongan style of leadership (this does not mean the exclusion of overseas people), but it is appropriate and far better to appoint any leader from within the people in the Church.
The President of the Church has many tasks equally in relation to Ministry work and work related to administering the flock. The General Secretary will relieve the President of the responsibilities of office work so that he can focus on the various Spiritual Work and Administering to the Flock as required by the people of God.
The appointment of the General Secretary of the Church:
Every Conference will appoint a General Secretary, and every Ordained Minister who has a Ministry and is present at the Conference will be eligible for appointment. The voting will be by a ballot and be carried by a majority.
And to leave to the Church Office to consider a Connexional Secretary and a Secretary of the Church and others to assist him.
The tasks of the General Secretary of the Church:
(a) To prepare and carry out the various work of the Conference and the Conference Committee.
i. To implement the decisions made by the Conference and the Standing Committee.
ii. To assist the President in carrying out the work of the Church and to follow his advice.
iii. To manage and administer the work procedures for the Office staff.
iv. To manage and administer the work procedures of the various Offices.
v. To chair the meetings of the Tongatapu Region as directed by the President.
vi. To communicate with the various Overseas Churches, including the World Council of Churches.
vii. To be Acting President during a time that the President of the Church is away from Tonga.
9. THE PRESIDENT
His Majesty will appoint the first President of the Conference from the rank of ordained Ministers who have ministries, and the Conference will choose the President each year, but subject to his Majesty’s approval.
The powers of the President
(a) The President has the power to appoint a Minister to fill a vacancy in a ministry arising out of the death of a Minister in that ministry, or the termination of his position for some other reason.
i. To Chair the Conference.
ii. He can accept the letter of resignation by a Minster.
iii. He can assign the Ministers with the approval of the Conference.
iv. To keep the Financial Records and Church funds, and he has the power to appoint a person to assist him in carrying out this task.
(k) To decide on the procedures that appear appropriate for inspecting the
Financial Records of the Church and to bring this information to each yearly Conference.
(l) It is for the President to include another person or persons to put the various Church money in a Bank in Tonga or overseas, for security and to earn interest. The President is to inform the Conference Committee and seek prior approval for any change to this arrangement or further use of the funds; and for the yearly financial information to be done in accordance with subparagraph (k) above.
(m) The President can authorise a person to perform the Sacrament of the Last Supper during each Conference year, and this role can be given to any of the following position holders:
i. A Probationary Minister who is responsible for, or assisting in, a Ministry.
ii. A Trainee Minister who is responsible for, or assisting in, an Educational Institution.
iii. A Conference Steward who is responsible for a village or place that is difficult to be accessed by the Minister of that Parish.
(n) If a person holds the position of President for three consecutive years, he will be entitled to three months’ leave. The Conference Committee will determine when this will occur.
In the event of the President being unable to carry out his duties, due to death, an accident, or his being appointed to another position, his powers and duties will be assumed by one of the previous Presidents who is the most suitable, and should none be suitable, then his Majesty can appoint a person to be acting in the position.