Emeritus is an honorary title bestowed upon one who has retired from a position (pastor, professor, or other professional position) as a way of honoring the individual’s service. Emeritus comes from the Latin word emereri, which means to earn one’s discharge by service. Bestowing the title “Pastor Emeritus” upon a retiring pastor is a way for the church leadership to honor his service to the church.
Depending upon the particular church, the title may have some duties such as serving in an advisory role to the leadership group or to the current pastor. It can also involve a teaching role, depending on the retired pastor’s desire to continue to serve. Benefits for the position, at least as far as monetary compensation, are up to the particular church or denomination. There are no biblically set guidelines other than those of the by-laws of the organization or church conferring the honor. It is, however, right and fitting that a church or congregation recognize the faithful service of those who shepherd and serve them with honor and integrity. Bestowing the title of Pastor Emeritus is one way to demonstrate respect and gratitude for pastoral service.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).