…tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it…
1 Peter 5:2 (NRSV)
One of the most challenging opportunities for service in the local church is the staff-parish relations committee (sometimes referred to as the pastor-parish relations committee). Why is this? Service on this important committee is challenging because it requires each member to listen to God, consider multiple interests, and maintain a critical balance between our call to make disciples of Jesus Christ and our human tendencies to resist change and avoid conflict.
The staff-parish relations committee (SPRC) is required by ¶244 in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church and is a basic part of the organizational structure of the local church. As noted in the Pastor-Parish Relations booklet by Betsey Heavner included in Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation, the SPRC is the local church administrative unit in which lay and clergy spiritual leaders integrate the staff and congregational interests to focus on the mission and vision of the local church.
The SPRC shall have no less than five persons or more than nine persons, including at least one young adult, the lay leader, and a lay member of the annual conference. Members of the committee should represent various groups in the local church, addressing the needs of the church and its staff through discernment. Staff persons or immediate family members of a pastor or staff person may not serve on the committee.
The staff-parish relations committee is required to meet at least quarterly, and may not meet without the knowledge of the pastor or the district superintendent. The committee’s relationship to the district superintendent and the bishop is advisory. The work of the SPRC should be considered confidential, including all discussions and actions taken.
Some of the general responsibilities of the staff-parish relations committee include:
Other responsibilities related to personnel matters include:
The Book of Discipline requires members of the staff-parish relations committee to be knowledgeable about personnel matters in relation to church policies, professional standards, liability issues, and civil law. Human resources available to the SPRC may include the district superintendent, the Conference Treasurer’s office, and persons in the community who are trained in the areas of communication, conflict resolution, employee benefits, and social issues.
Some churches have established a personnel committee in addition to the staff-parish relations committee. Personnel committees are amenable to the SPRC and include such members of the SPRC and other persons as designated by the charge conference. Personnel committees usually develop local church personnel policies, including guidelines for compensation.