Guaranteed Appointment

Among the various actions taken by General Conference was an overwhelming vote (originally on the consent agenda) to end guaranteed appointments for ordained elders in the United Methodist Church.  In brief, “under this new legislation, bishops and cabinets will be allowed to give elders less than full-time appointment. The legislation also would permit bishops and their cabinets, with the approval of their boards of ordained ministry and annual (regional) conference’s executive session, to put elders on unpaid transitional leave for up to 24 months. Clergy on transitional leave would be able to participate in their conference health program through their own contributions.  Each annual conference is asked to name a task force to develop a list of criteria to guide the cabinets and bishops as they make missional appointments.  The cabinets shall report to the executive committees of Board of Ordained Ministry the number of clergy without fulltime appointments and their age, gender and ethnicity. Cabinets also will be asked to report their learnings as appointment-making is conducted in a new way.” (Taken from UMNS, May 1, 2012) I am always surprised by the amount of anxiety this issue seems to engender.  The involvement of the Board of Ordained Ministry in conjunction with the Cabinet safeguards against misuse based on gender, ethnicity or freedom of the pulpit.  It does assist in proper placement of associate pastors and general effectiveness accountability.  It places Elders in the same accountability relationship as Licensed Local Pastors.  In reality, it will have very little effect on most Central Texas Conference clergy and churches.  Denomination wide, there is an estimated excess of only 784 Elders across the whole connection!  When you couple this with a retirement tsunami that will peak in the CTC in 2018 (we are currently on the beginning edge of that huge wave), we will actually desperately need new clergy in the next 10 to15 years. As we wrestle with our deep need to make mission field appointments, the challenge will be to make the proper fit between pastor, church and mission field.  Furthermore, the deeper pressure we are experiencing a clergy deployment system is being driven by pensions and health insurance. So, relax, for almost all this will make little difference.  It will protect churches and clergy from deep ineffectiveness and aid making mission field appointments.