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Voluntary Transition Program

Most clergy come into ministry with energy and vigor, and serve until they reach retirement eligibility.  However, some persons who enter ministry later experience a loss of calling, yet feel trapped in the only profession for which they are trained and educated.


What does an elder or deacon do when they no longer sense a call?

It happens. To good people. Unexpectedly. But with the investment in clergy education, living in the parsonage, and a lack of other marketable skills, an elder or a deacon may feel trapped in ordained ministry, even when it is draining them completely.


Our General Board of Pensions has a program to assist individuals who may be in this difficult position.  The Voluntary Transition Program provides eligible clergy with a financially supported method for a grace-filled exit. The program is for eligible clergy who choose to withdraw from the ministry. The program was adopted at General Conference 2012. It will terminate December 31, 2020.


The program provides an eligible participant a career transition package that includes:

  • Severance benefit based on current compensation and years of service
  • Continuation of health benefits through the conference plan
  • Continuation of active participant death benefit through the Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP) if applicable during the Transition Period
  • Access to outplacement services
  • Moving expenses subject to conference policy

Clergy who meet the following criteria may be eligible for the Voluntary Transition Program:

  • Clergyperson must be in good standing.
  • At least five years of service in full connection (i.e., elders or deacons).
  • Active participant in the Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP) for five years immediately preceding separation from service.

      – Appointment immediately preceding separation from service must be generally:
         1) an active appointment (full-time or part-time),
         2) transitional leave, or
         3) receiving a long-term disability benefit from CPP.

  • Not being within two years of eligibility to retire under The Book of Discipline ¶358.2(b)(30 years of service or age 62).
  • Conference approval from the district superintendent, bishop and committee on conference relations of the conference board of ordained ministry.

This program is not a sabbath or respite; it includes withdrawal from the conference and surrendering one's clergy credentials.  It is for those who need to make a break, and turn the corner to a different vocational path.

The links below provide further information on the VTP.


Voluntary Transition Program - Highlight Sheet

Voluntary Transition Program - Frequently Asked Questions

Voluntary Transition Program - Agreement Form

Voluntary Transition Program - Checklist

Depository Agreement


If you are interested, the process begins with a discussion with your District Superintendent.

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