The term refers to a minister 'permitted or directed under the provisions of the Deed of Union or Standing Orders to retire from the active work of the ministry' and known in earlier days as a 'worn-out minister'. Ministers were permitted by Conference to retire after travelling 40 years or reaching retirement age as defined by the Ministers' Pension Scheme, or on compassionate grounds such as ill-health. The term is now also used to cover deacons. In either case, they can apply when they reach the point where they are permitted to do so by Standing Orders (Section 79), e.g. in some cases at 60 - or earlier on medical or compassionate grounds.
Supernumeraries are stationed in a circuit, are members of the Circuit Meeting and Circuit Local Preachers Meeting. Unless they are active Supernumeraries (i.e. with pastoral responsibility for a local church), they are not members of Church Councils or committees, unless elected to serve. They are members of the District Synod, but are required to attend only the ministerial session of the Synod (unless granted a dispensation).