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Extension to Stipendiary Ministerial Service beyond the Normal Retirement Age

Read or download the procedure to the extension to stipendiary ministerial service beyond the normal retirement age. Please note, this was formerly called Duty to Consider.


1. The criteria for seeking an extension are set out below and will be considered against the legitimate strategic and social policy objectives and denominational reasons within the denominational retirement policy:

  • a Minister drawing near to the end of a particular project or piece of service who might need to spend a year or two to bring it to a conclusion;
  • plans for a new grouping of churches in a particular area where it is felt desirable for the Minister to remain for a short while to see plans through to fruition;
  • a Minister, coming into ministry later in life, who might have just a short time to go before qualifying for retired ministers’ housing;
  • a Minister whose spouse has a short period to go before retirement;
  • a Minister wishing to continue part-time in a pastorate in which they currently serve full-time;
  • a Minister who, on retiring from full-time stipendiary service at age 68 wishes to take up a new part- time post;
  • a Minister already serving part-time who wishes to continue part-time in the same pastorate beyond the age of 68;

These criteria apply to both full-time and part-time extensions.

Part-time is considered up to 75%.

2. In reaching a decision over whether to grant an extension, the Accreditation (CRCW&SCM) Sub-Committee (thereafter known as the Accreditation Sub-Committee) shall also consider the individual circumstances against the denominational retirement policy together with athe overall responsibility of the United Reformed Church to monitor Minister numbers so that:

(a) the financial responsibility to support the ministerial work force is not threatened; and

(b) the introduction of newly ordained and commissioned ministers is not curtailed.

3. The process for extensions is as follows:

3.1. In the month of a Minister’s 67th birthday the payroll office shall confirm the expected date of retirement as the end of the month in which they are 68.

3.2. If a Minister does not wish to retire on that date, they must apply to the Accreditations Sub-Committee for an extension of service for a maximum of three years.

3.3. The Minister shall speak to the Synod Moderator and thereafter submit an application for an extension to the Synod Moderator stating whether the extension is a continuation of full-time or part-time service.

3.4. On receipt of the application, the appropriate Synod Committee shall consult with the Minister, Moderator, Elders of the Church/es/post and the Church Meeting(s), where the Minister is in a pastorate, to see whether or not the individual circumstances warrant an extension of stipendiary service.

3.5. The Minister should not be present when the Church Meeting discusses the extension.

3.6. The Synod (through its appropriate committee) should send

a) the Minister’s application;

b) an account of the particular circumstances under 1 above which necessitates an extension;

c) a written record of whether the pastorate or post supports an extension;

d) a written record of whether Synod supports an extension.
to the Secretary for Ministries for a decision by the Accreditation Sub-Committee.

3.7. If an extension is granted the Secretary for Ministries shall inform the Synod and the Minister of the decision of the Accreditation Sub-Committee. If the decision is to accept the extension, then a new date of retirement shall be agreed.

3.8. The extension shall be for up to three years until the age of 71 with a review one year before the extension finishes followed by an annual review thereafter.

3.9. A year before the revised date of retirement, the payroll office shall once again write to the Minister and, if a further extension of stipendiary service is requested, the United Reformed Church must consider the request. The procedure set out above will therefore be repeated.

3.10. Ministers wishing to appeal against the decision of the Accreditation Sub-Committee should do so in line with the United Reformed Church’s appeals procedure.

Download this procedure


Review Date: July 2023

Commentary on the United Reformed Church Retirement Policy for Ministers in Stipendiary Ministry

1. About this policy
2. Personnel responsible for this policy
3. Fixed retirement age
4. What to expect as you approach the fixed retirement age
5. Requests to continue in Ministry beyond the retirement age
6. The conclusion of Ministry on retirement


1.1 Ministers on the Roll of Ministers of the United Reformed Church (URC) are office holders. The URC consider that age diversity is beneficial to the Denomination and for the purposes of the retirement of Ministers in stipendiary service and, as good practice, adopts the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 in respect of age provisions and retirement. The URC are committed to not discriminating against Ministers because of age in respect of retirement and adhere to the principles set out in our Equal Opportunities Policy.

1.2 The URC have decided that it is appropriate to have a fixed retirement age for stipendiary Ministers. The reasons for this are set out briefly at Paragraph 3 of this document. We will review whether this fixed retirement age remains necessary from time to time and will let Ministers know if we consider this needs to change and bring any proposed changes to this to General Assembly.

1.3 This policy sets out the steps the URC will take as you approach the fixed retirement age, giving you the opportunity to express your preferences and expectations, and enabling us to plan for the life and development of the Church.

1.4 This policy applies to all Ministers in stipendiary service.

1.5 This policy does not form part of a Minister’s Terms of Settlement and we may amend it at any time.


2.1 The Ministries Committee has overall responsibility for the effective operation and fair application of this policy but may delegate aspects to your Moderator or other personnel within the denomination as appropriate.


The URC have a fixed retirement age of 68 years for stipendiary Ministers. We consider that there are the following legitimate strategic social policy objectives and denominational reasons for this fixed retirement age and that these aims cannot reasonably be met by other means:

A. The promotion of intergenerational fairness and dignity.

i) Creating a balanced denominational Ministerial team by promoting access to Ministry for younger people.

ii) The efficient planning of the departure and recruitment of Ministers.

iii) The sharing of opportunities for Ministers fairly between the generations.

iv) Ensuring the mix of generations so as to promote the exchange of experience and new ideas amongst Ministers.

v) Avoiding disputes with older Ministers over their fitness to Minister.

B. The management of the number of serving Ministers in a shrinking denomination.

i) The total number of Ministers needs to be managed year on year in order to match the needs of the denomination, local churches and available funding. There will be less opportunity and available funds for new Ministers to be trained and called to Ministry if there are too many senior Ministers. It is important to ensure that there are opportunities for new Ministers to come through with fresh ideas.

ii) The changing demographics of the denomination results in Ministers having to take on more and different duties, which enhance the risk of health and safety issues e.g extended hours, stress, emotional fatigue and other potential issues such as the increased risk of legal claims. These issues and the denomination’s continuing health and safety obligations towards Ministers become more difficult and costly for the Church to manage past the fixed retirement age which diminishes available financial resources.


4.1 The URC would like to consult with you well in advance of your retirement date. You will receive a letter 12 months in advance of the fixed retirement date. That letter will explain the normal circumstances of retirement from URC ministry and invite you to request any appropriate consultation which would normally take place through your Synod Moderator. If you wish you may request a meeting, in which case you are able to bring a friend or colleague with you to the meeting should you wish.

At the meeting we can discuss any relevant issues, such as whether a handover period is necessary or how your skills could be passed on to others within the denomination. You may also wish to discuss whether you would like to continue beyond the retirement date or in a different capacity in accordance with Paragraph 5. below.

4.2 You may decide that it is beneficial to meet on more than one occasion, in which case an additional meeting can be arranged.

4.3 You should feel free to initiate a discussion with your Moderator and or the Ministries Committee about your future plans with regard to retirement. You may want to retire earlier than the fixed retirement date or work flexibly or in an alternative role in the period leading up to retirement. If so, we would like to know what your plans are and discuss them with you. Alternatively, you may wish to make a request to change your working arrangements.


5.1 If you would like to continue in Ministry beyond the retirement age, in either a full or part time capacity, you may raise this with your Moderator and the Ministries Committee, and we will consider your request in the light of our social policy objectives and denominational reasons for having a fixed retirement age. The circumstances of each request will be considered individually and in a consistent way. Any decision to allow one Minister to continue in Ministry beyond the retirement age does not mean it will be possible for another to do the same.


6.1 Under your Terms of Settlement your Ministry concludes automatically at the end of the month when you reach the age of 68 years. Your Terms of Settlement set out the notice period that we will give you on retirement, or that you must give us if you wish to retire before reaching retirement age.

Date of last revision 07/2019

United Reformed Church