Minister Emeritus FAQ

Minister Emeritus FAQ

At our upcoming Congregational Meeting on June 5th, one of the items we are voting on is whether to grant Rev. Ken Beldon the title of “Minster Emeritus” upon his retirement. We’ve assembled an FAQ to help folks understand what that means, and how it works.

As stated in a recent update from the Board of Trustees: The Emeritus designation is granted to a minister to honor long and meritorious service to a congregation where the minister has given devoted and competent ministerial leadership. Conferring this designation requires a congregational vote. The Board of Trustees of WellSprings Congregation is asking the members of WellSprings to vote on the following resolution conferring the Emeritus designation on Reverend Ken Beldon.


Whereas Rev. Ken Beldon has served WellSprings Congregation with dedication, vision, and distinction as Founding Minister from 2005 to 2022, be it resolved that the members of WellSprings confer on Rev. Beldon the title of Minister Emeritus of WellSprings Congregation.”

Below is our FAQ

Q. What does “Minister Emeritus” mean?

A. In Unitarian Universalism, the title of Minister Emeritus is granted by the members of a congregation, to honor long and meritorious service to their spiritual community. The actual word, emeritus, comes from a Latin word used to describe those who have completed their term of duty.

Q. Who grants the title?

A. The only way to grant the title is by vote of the membership of a congregation where the minister has served.

Q. Would designating a Minister Emeritus title to Rev. Ken tie him to our congregation in perpetuity, in any way?

A. The Emeritus title is essentially a gift – a way to recognize the importance of Rev. Ken’s ministry. If we vote to bestow the title, Rev. Ken will always be our Minister Emeritus. But our choice to grant the honorary title does not imply or require anything from him.

Q. What does a typical relationship between a Minister Emeritus and a congregation look like?

A. It varies considerably. Some congregations bestow Emeritus status on ministers who have already moved out of the area, taken another ministry job, or the honor is given posthumously. On the other hand, some ministers remain members of the congregation that lists them as Emeritus. In that case, they may choose to attend, serve in volunteer roles, be invited to preach, or participate in significant lifecycle events of the congregation (e.g. speaking at a new building dedication). You can read examples of how some other congregations describe their relationships with Ministers Emerita here, here and here.

Q. What relationship does a Minister Emeritus have to other Minister/s on staff?

A. If a Minister Emeritus intends to remain part of the community, they are required to keep a covenant with the congregation’s regularly serving Minister/s. Any service they might provide to the congregation (e.g. preaching, speaking) is done only at the invitation of that Minister.

Q. Is Minister Emeritus a staff role? Do they receive compensation?

A. No. The role is purely an honorary designation.

Q. Will our vote to grant Emeritus status affect Rev. Ken’s planned “time away” from the congregation after June 30?

A. The UU denomination recommends that any minister leaving a paid position should take some time away from the congregation, including not attending Sunday services, and having no contact with congregants, for a prescribed period of time. Rev. Ken plans to do this whether or not we grant him the Emeritus title.

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