This reflection is the third in a series from the leadership of the California-Pacific Annual Conference on the unity of our annual conference and our future within the United Methodist Church.
Mystery seems to surround the appointment process. In the tradition of Circuit Riders, the United Methodist Church adopted a system where pastors committed themselves to be itinerant preachers. Itinerancy and the appointment system are grounded in a rich Methodist history—a history of following the Spirit of God into places and communities for the transformation of the world. Clergy choose to live in the covenant relationship of service to the annual conference and go where the bishop appoints them. In this covenantal relationship, the annual conference looks to the spiritual leadership and discernment of the bishop to match the needs of the churches with the gifts and graces of the pastor for the purpose of building strong ministries in each church or ministry setting. The appointment process can be found in paragraphs 425-430 of the 2016 Book of Discipline (BOD).
The appointive process in the Cal-Pac Conference is a Spirit-filled discernment of using open communication and a commitment to inclusiveness. Part of that open communication is the consultation process as outlined in the Book of Discipline: “Consultation is the process whereby the bishop and/or district superintendent confer with the pastor and committee on pastor-parish relations…” (¶ 426)—a multi-dimensional procedure. The bishop and cabinet receive information from the Clergy Request Form, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) evaluation, Church Profiles, and other Charge Conference forms. In addition to the written information, conversations with the pastor and the congregation are considered. In fact, in the last few years, the consultation process expanded to further include a pastor’s input by posting clear openings of churches, in which a pastor can discern if they are being called to a particular local church and let their district superintendent know of their interest in that appointment. In living out our covenant of connection, the bishop and cabinet enter prayerful consideration of the overall needs of the churches in the Conference.
We are aware of concerns and rumors that congregations will receive a pastor who does not align with the church’s theological stance. As per paragraph 427.1.b, the district superintendent will work with the church to develop a church profile detailing the needs, characteristics, and theological perceptive. Cal-Pac’s process of appointments has always strived to pair pastors with churches for the successful working relationship between laity and pastor for fruitful ministry while holding to the integrity of the local church’s identity.
As we journey into the future of the United Methodist Church, we are committed to continuing an appointment process of open communication and honoring the gift of our diversity.
Your District Superintendents welcome continued conversation and the opportunity to clarify any misconception about the appointment process. Our open communication fosters collaborative ministry to our Conference and the world.
Rev. Melissa Roux MacKinnon
North District Superintendent & Dean of the Cabinet