Not everyone may be aware of how pastoral appointments are made in the United Methodist Church (UMC), so we thought we’d share briefly a little bit about the process we’ve gone through in the last couple of weeks.
In the UMC, bishops (and district superintendents) have the responsibility of making pastoral appointments. In our conference, there are nine district superintendents who work with the bishop in setting the appointments for more than 800 churches throughout central Pennsylvania. (We’ll say more about the UMC’s itinerant ministry in a future post.)
Around November/December of each year, pastors and Staff Parish Relations Committees (SPRC) are given the opportunity to offer input in the pastoral appointment process. The Bishop and Cabinet then take all of that input into consideration as appointments are made for the next conference year.
A couple weeks ago, we received a surprise phone call from our district superintendent, Rev. David Norris, informing us that we would receive a call from another district superintendent. A few hours later, we received a call from Rev. Dr. Pam Ford, district superintendent of the State College District. We scheduled a meeting for the following day where we discussed the possible moves to West Side and Centre Grove.
As we understand it, because of our family transition we were given the opportunity to accept or decline the move. We took about 48 hours to pray and think about the decision. While it was a fairly difficult decision to make, we ultimately decided to accept the new appointments.
On Sunday, April 20, we spent the afternoon and evening in Clearfield. We met with the SPRC at West Side in the afternoon. Then, after a tour of the parsonage and dinner with Pam Ford and West Side’s current pastor and friend, Jay Jones, we met with the SPRC at Centre Grove.
SPRC members are asked to not share/discuss the news about the new pastor with anyone before the appointment is publicly announced in the respective churches at the same time. In our case, announcements were made at the churches we are leaving and at the churches we are going to on Sunday, April 27.
The SPRCs at Manor Hill and 12th Street/Hope met shortly after the announcements — Sunday afternoon at Manor Hill and Monday evening at 12th Street — in order to put together their church profiles, which will be used in the selection of their new pastors.
In the next few weeks, the district superintendent will meet again with the SPRCs to introduce them to their next pastor. Once again, SPRC members will need to hold the information in confidence until the official announcement is made the following Sunday.
We are always grateful for God’s leading in our lives (see Randy’s previous post, Prayers for the Journey). In our denomination, part of that leadership is expressed through our conference leaders. We are grateful for the manner in which they seek to spiritually discern God’s will in the setting of pastoral appointments. This sense of knowing and trusting God’s leadership gives us excitement about the next chapter of our journeys!