Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Checks and Balances of the UMC

Each year every Pastor/Parrish Relations Committee of each United Methodist Church meets and decides if they want the pastor to return for another year. This past Sunday representatives of the 3 churches of the Mount Airy Charge; Republican Grove UMC, Providence UMC, and Saint Andrews UMC met to discuss and submit their recommendation to the District and Conference. For some reason that I really don't understand, the pastor is required to be in attendance at the meeting. I have thought of a few reasons why this may be required:

1.So the pastor can hear any criticisms made and offer rebuttal

2.So the pastor can hear any criticisms made and find room for improvement

3.So the PPR representatives would consider any criticisms before making them

4.and of course, intimidation

I have been in churches where the pastor had arranged that everyone serving on the PPR loved him, sort of stacking the deck. So, when it came time to give recommendations, they were always favorable. Personally this never made any sense to me. Even if I liked serving at a particular church, I would not want to stay if the majority of the church didn't want me.

That being said, the PPR had several options to choose from:

1.It is in the best interest of our Church/Charge that our pastor be re-appointed for another year.

2.We would like for our pastor to be returned, but in event a change is made, we will work with our new pastor to insure the continuation of the Church/Charge ministry.

3.Our Church/Charge could benefit by a change in pastor, but in the event this does not occur, we will work with our current pastor for effective ministry in the year to come.

4.It is evident that a move is in order. We believe this decision represents the best interests of the Church/Charge.

5.It is our understanding that our pastor will not be re-appointed to this Church/Charge because of retirement, or extension ministry appointment, etc.

The PPR chose the first option. I guess I've grown on them over the last year and a half. It has been a wonderful time. The congregations have had a lot of grace with me and have been very understanding of my job requirements at the doctors office. When I hear other pastors bemoan the problems with their churches, I smile very large inside.

Now, there is a check and balance to this. The pastor also has to let his desires be known. Does he want to stay or does he request re-appointment. The options the pastor has to choose from are essentially the same. When I started in the ministry I decided that I would always be open to being moved, even if I loved where I was serving. I would essentially put my trust in the wisdom of the District Superintendent and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to place me where God would have me to be. I learned a long time ago that being where God wants you is so much more important than being where you would like to be. So the option I chose was:

"I prefer to remain at my present appointment. However, in the event that an appointment becomes available where my gifts for ministry are needed, I am willing to be considered. If a change occurs, I will work with congregations to assure a smooth transition of pastoral leadership."

I do not relish the remote idea of leaving the Mount Airy Charge, but if a door opens I will try and walk through it. If it is not for me, I trust God will slam it in my face. If it is for me, then I trust I will be where God wants me to be. You can't do better than that.

Of course, all this amounts to is recommendations and preferences. When the Conference meets to move and appoint they can totally disregard the desires of the PPR and pastor. But, it is nice to know that the people in your congregations like you enough that they're willing to look at you and listen to you for another year.

1 comment:

de said...

This is really fascinating stuff!

I had no idea how any of this worked! Your blog is really a pleasure to read and see.