A Season of Transition

It is a season of transition. I have had the opportunity to serve as the preacher at Berryton United Methodist Church since July 1, 2018. On Sunday, I announced during worship that I have received a new appointment from Bishop Ruben Saenz to serve as the pastor at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka beginning July 1, 2019. I will miss the good people of Berryton and am grateful for the care our family has received from both the church and community. I look forward to meeting the people of Susanna Wesley, learning more about the ministries, traditions, hopes, and dreams of the congregation, and continuing to reach the mission field with the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ. I am also looking forward to learning from Rev. Maria Campbell who has served Susanna Wesley faithfully these past seven years!

The Staff Parish team at Berryton UMC has been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Rev. Kay Scarbrough, about who will be appointed to serve as the next pastor. We will share that news when it is available. Will you take a moment to pray for our community, congregations, Bishop, District Superintendents and our family?

If you would like to get or stay connected with me, here are a few ways:

I am committed to making this transition in the best possible way, including saying goodbye, grieving, finding away in the “in-between” space, saying hello, and engaging new beginnings.

100 Conversations in 100 Days

Today is my 32nd day as the preacher assigned to Berryton United Methodist Church. It has been a wonderful journey of learning, sharing, and welcome. I am so grateful for the warm welcome that we have received from the congregation and community. One of the ways that I have been learning about the congregation is something that I am calling 100 Conversations in 100 Days.

I hope to share a one-on-one conversation with 100 people so that I can hear their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the church and community. My hope is to get this accomplished in my first 100 days, which gives me until October 8. As of today, I have four down and ninety-six to go. If you live in the Berryton area, would you be willing to share a conversation with me about the church? Visit www.calendly.com/AndrewConard and click on “100 Conversations” to set up a time to meet.

I have been updating and adapting questions from Eleven Questions for Getting to Know a New Congregation. Here is the original list:

  • Tell me about a time when you felt especially proud of some members or leaders of your congregation, when you felt they were really following Christ. What makes this incident stand out in your mind?
  • Whom do you especially respect as leaders? Why do you hold them in high regard?
  • Tell me why you’re glad you are a member of this congregation. Why did you join this congregation instead of another one?
  • How has being part of this congregation helped you and members of your family grow in faith? Please give me some examples of experiences or classes that made a difference. How did you change?
  • Tell me a story about when congregation members resolved a conflict or difference effectively. What do you think the congregation learned from this experience? How effectively do leaders and members handle differences now?
  • What have you especially valued about your pastors and other congregational staff? (Be specific.) Do any sermons, initiatives, or attributes of your previous pastors come to mind?
  • Tell me about a time when you were disappointed with members or leaders. What happened?
  • Complete this sentence: “God is calling this congregation to be …”
  • What do you think God wants your congregation to emphasize in the next three to five years?
  • What else do I need to know in order to thrive in this congregation and community?
  • Do you have any other concerns or suggestions?

What strategies or techniques have you used to learn about the congregation and community in a new appointment?

Questions for a Congregation from a Newly Appointed Pastor in the #UMC

Question mark
Question mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am preparing to transition to a new appointment beginning July 1. One of the things that I have learned from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership is that good leaders ask the right questions. I have been working on a list of questions that I believe will be helpful in getting started well at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado.

Ministries

  • How is the church engaging the community?
  • What can you tell me about the United Methodist Men?
  • What can you tell me about the United Methodist Women?
  • How would the church say that they have grown in the past year?
  • What is going on during the week?
  • What is the congregation’s favorite way of learning? Teaching, book study, etc.
Congregation
  • How are people growing in their faith outside of worship?
  • Who are the key influencers in the congregation?
  • Who are the people / families that will do whatever it takes at the church?
  • Who might peer churches be for support, encouragement and benchmarking?
  • Who are the staff and leaders that are great Bible study / small group leaders?
Mission and Vision
  • In what ways do the vision and purpose guide what the church does?
  • How are the vision and purpose communicated to the staff and congregation?
  • What is the vision and purpose of the church?
Facility
  • For the facility, what needs regular maintenance?
  • For the facility, what needs to be repaired?
  • For the facility, what needs to be replaced?
  • What is the state of the facility?
Pastor’s Role
  • How might can I best serve the church?
  • What are some ways to get congregational buy in?
  • What are some ideas for “quick wins” that might be possible?
  • What are things that I might do that have never been done before?
  • What facts or realities about me or my ministry can I share that might be helpful for the congregation?
  • What are the die hard principles or practices that if I change them will get me tarred and feathered?
Connection
  • What efforts exist to close the back door? (Keep people engaged who might otherwise leave)
  • What are the biggest barriers to people coming in the door?
  • What is being done to bring in new members?
  • What kind of follow up for first time visitors happens?
  • What new networks of people can I engage and develop?
Finance
  • How does the budget break out between compensation, operations, mission and ministry?
  • Is the budget growing?
  • Is the church paying its apportionments in full?
Community
  • Where do people gather for coffee or breakfast in town?
  • What opportunities for mission in the community exist?

What other questions would you add to this list?

New Appointment: How the News Was Shared

The news of my new appointment was shared in the following way:

  • Tuesday, March 13 – Supervisor and Lead Staff
  • Wednesday, March 14 – Resurrection West Staff
  • Sunday, March 18 – Worship at Resurrection West
  • Monday, March 19 – Resurrection All Staff Email
  • Monday, March 19 – Social Media – Facebook, Twitter and Blog
  • Wednesday, March 21 – Resurrection West Weekly eNote
  • Friday, March 23 – Senior Pastor’s Weekly eNote to entire congregation across campuses.

New Appointment: How and When I Found Out

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. This is a series of posts about this transition.

At times the appointive process for pastors in The United Methodist Church can seem a bit mysterious – for pastors and congregations. I wanted to share how my appointment to First UMC El Dorado unfolded, along with my commentary:

  • Fall 2011 – I had my annual appointive conversation with District Superintendent and completed my appointive recommendation form.
    • This is part of the annual process, I was not sure what to expect about possible outcomes. I indicated that I was open but not asking for a move. Resurrection is a great place to be in ministry. Over the past year, I have become more clear about feeling called to be the lead pastor at a church. I did not know when that move might take place – this year or some time in the years ahead.

Thursday, March 7 – Preparatory Appointment Call

I received a phone call from the Kansas City District Superintendent in the evening. He indicated that I would be receiving a phone call from the Wichita East District Superintendent about an appointment that had been discerned for me. He asked if this was a good phone number to reach me and if tonight would be an okay time for that conversation.

  • The answer to if I was available was yes. I didn’t happen to have anything else planned, but this would have trumped about everything else I might have had on my calendar. Nicole and I briefly wondered why the name of the church wasn’t shared in this first phone call. We realized that the intervening time was helpful for us to process the news and be better prepared to listen when I did hear what the appointment would be.

Thursday, March 7 – Appointment Call

About an hour and half after the phone call from the KC District Superintendent, I received a phone call from the Wichita East District Superintendent indicating that the Bishop and cabinet had discerned that I would be appointed to El Dorado First United Methodist Church. He shared information about the church and the community. He asked if I needed time to consider, pray and talk with Nicole about this appointment. I indicated that this being the appointment that was made for me, I would go. The next step was to schedule an introductory meeting at First UMC and to keep the information confidential until then, as sometimes things do not go at those gatherings.

  • I was madly scribbling notes about the church and community, trying to look up information on the website and Google Maps and then turned to an electronic document to keep typing what the DS was sharing with me. I believe in God’s work through the appointive process and was glad to say yes to being sent to El Dorado in this conversation.

Monday, March 12 – Parsonage Tour

Nicole, John and I drove down to El Dorado in the afternoon. We arrived in time to drive around the city, take a look at El Dorado State Park and have supper at a local restaurant. The next stop was the parsonage (house provided for the pastor by the church) at 6:00 PM. We met the District Superintendent, current pastor and two members of the Staff Parish committee who also serve on the Parsonage team and Trustees. We had a tour of the house and talked about some possibilities that the church might do before we arrive. They indicated that they hoped to paint, perhaps re-carpet and a few other items.

  • It was neat to walk around the house where we will be living in a few months. It was overwhelming and generous to be asked our opinion on what might be updated in the house before we moved in. I tried to capture it all in my memory, but am sure that I will discover it all over again when we move in.

Monday, March 12 – Introductory at First UMC

After the parsonage tour, we went to the church to meet with the Staff Parish committee. The District Superintendent convened the meeting. As it turns out, the church did not know the who was being appointed before that night, just that someone had been appointed. Nicole and I had a chance to share our story as a way of introducing themselves. The committee members introduced themselves and shared about the church and community. I had some questions for them and they had some questions for me. There was some paperwork to be signed and then the meeting closed with a tour through the church building.

  • It felt great to meet the Staff Parish team. They are a wonderful group of leaders and I am looking forward to getting to working with them in the future. It was exciting to take a tour of the church and begin to imagine what it will be like to be in ministry inside and outside the walls. I tried to pack everything in to my memory.

How do Pastors in the UMC Provide Input into their Appointment?

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. This is a series of posts about this transition.

Yesterday, I shared a bit about how pastors are appointed in The United Methodist Church. I mentioned a form that clergy fill out each year regarding their appointment and I wanted to share that form with you. This form, along with an annual appointive conversation and any other ad hoc conversation with District Superintendent or Bishop is how pastors provide input into their appointment each year. This content is copied directly from the form provided by the annual conference, which you can download a PDF or Word document using this link.

Introduction

The key to an effective appointive process is open communication and consultation between and among pastor(s), Committee(s) on Staff/Pastor Parish Relations, Bishop, and the Appointive Cabinet. The District Superintendent, acting on behalf of the Bishop, works directly with the pastor(s) and local church Committee(s) on Staff/Pastor Parish Relations to enable the appointive process to reach an acceptable conclusion. [2008 Book of Discipline, ¶433] This assessment is treated as confidential information for the use of the Bishop and Appointive Cabinet. Pastors are expected to be honest in dealing with their congregation and others about any possible preference for a move. Pastors waive the right to confidentiality, should they be anything other than forthright in this matter.

Instructions

In your prayerful consideration, please check the option that best represents your assessment for the coming appointive year. Note on the continuum where you see yourself with regard to any possible move. Sign and return this form to the office of your District Superintendent by December 15th. In consultation with your DS, you are responsible to notify your S/PPR Committee of your request. Use back of form for any additional comments.

Appointive Options

  • __ This appointment appears to be a match and effectively utilizes my gifts and graces. I acknowledge that all appointments are annual, and I may be considered for a different appointment. If so, the following ranking of concerns applies. I realize that not all my concerns may be satisfied in any appointment. [Please rank your concerns in order of importance, with #1 being your highest priority.]
    • __ A different location (describe):
    • __ A different situation (describe):
    • __ Spouse, family, or household considerations (describe):
    • __ Salary increase is a critical need.
  • ___ This appointment does not appear to be match. Using the list of concerns above, I will provide information about the type of appointment which would utilize my gifts for ministry. (Rank your concerns on the list above; use back page if necessary.)
  • ___ I plan to retire, request leave of absence, ask for honorable location, or otherwise discontinue active ministry in The United Methodist Church. If retiring, a letter to the Bishop requesting this status is required 120 days preceding Annual Conference.

Appointive Continuum

[Please note your current assessment about any possible move.] _________________________________________________________________________________

Remain                                                                                                                                                                                                 Move

How Does the Appointment Process in the United Methodist Church work?

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. This is a series of posts about this transition.

When I have the chance to talk with someone more than briefly about the move one of the most common questions that comes up is about how pastors in the United Methodist Church get moved around in the first place. This question seems to be evenly distributed among those that have just started and long time attenders in United Methodist Churches. First a few of the key players

  • Bishop – oversees all the churches in an annual conference, which is nearly always a particular geographic area.
  • District Superintendents – oversee the churches in a particular area of the annual conference.
  • Cabinet – The Bishop, District Superintendents and a few other key staff

Here is the low down on the process:

United Methodist pastors are appointed to a church or churches on a yearly basis. In theory, a pastor could be appointed to a different location each year. In practice, an average would be that a pastor would serve 5 to 7 years at one location. It seems that the amount of time that a pastor serves at a particular place has trended longer more recently. Longer tenures tend to work out better for both pastors and congregations.

In the fall each year, the church makes a request as to whether their current pastor continues to be a great fit or if they would prefer that they serve elsewhere. This request is put together by the Staff Parish Committee, one of the governing bodies of the local church. As a pastor, I also complete an appointive request about whether I feel the congregation is a good fit for my gifts or if I might serve more effectively elsewhere. In addition to these forms, the District Superintendent has a conversation with both the pastor and the church about what might be next.

In January the appointive cabinet takes an inventory of all the churches and pastors is completed, taking in to account who will be retiring, who is graduating from seminary and will be ready for an appointment, what church / pastor combinations are working great and which are falling apart. Then they begin the discernment process using all this data, prayer and seeking God’s guidance to make appointments for the year ahead.

Ultimately it is the Bishop who makes the appointments with the advisement of the rest of the Cabinet. Bishop Scott Jones of Kansas has shared that the goal of the appointment process is “to maximize the missional effectiveness of every church in Kansas.”

Pastors and churches are notified of the appointments in the spring and they are fixed in the early summer at the annual meeting of all the pastors in the Annual Conference.

Does that make sense? What could be more clear? What did I get wrong? What else would be helpful to know?

New Appointment: El Dorado First United Methodist Church

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. The news was announced at El Dorado and Resurrection West on Sunday. El Dorado is a city with a population of about 13,000. It is located just off I-35 about 30 minutes east of Wichita. It is the county seat and most populous city in Butler County. First United Methodist Church was organized in 1869 and is thought to have been the first church in Butler County. The current church building was built in the 1920’s. They have a traditional and contemporary worship service on Sunday morning with a combined average worship attendance of 150 to 175.

I am excited about being the lead pastor at a congregation and using what I have learned at Resurrection to be a part of renewing the church. At the same time, I will miss all the great people on staff and in the congregation at Resurrection. I am looking forward to getting to know the people of the congregation and community in El Dorado and together take the next faithful step.

I plan to write more about the transition in the days ahead, so check back for more updates. If you have specific questions or would like to share a conversation, please feel free to email me at andrew.conard@rezwest.org.

Beginning A New Appointive Year – My Sixth

Today I officially begin my sixth year under appointment as a pastor in The United Methodist Church. I have served in two roles as an associate pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

It is a joy and an honor to serve God in this place. I am looking forward to another year of serving God as a United Methodist pastor.

What is a guaranteed appointment in the UMC?

According to the 2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, “Every effective elder in full connection who is in good standing shall be continued under appointment by the bishop…” (¶334.1) There is conversation about changing the “shall” in this paragraph to “may.” This would, in effect, end a guaranteed appointment to serve at a local church.

In addition to the characteristics of an effective clergy person from ¶340 in the Book of Discipline, there are several other professional responsibilities that are necessary to continue to be eligible to be appointed to serve at a local church. According to ¶334.2, they are:

  • Be available for appointment
  • Complete an annual evaluation with both the church and District Superintendent
  • Show evidence of continuing effectiveness reflected in these annual reviews
  • Participate in continuing education and formation.
  • Willingness to supervise and mentor others

Shall, may, guarantee or not all this seems reasonable to me. How about you?

Guaranteed Appointments: Discrimination and Prophetic Voice

A few of the key points in favor of continuing guaranteed appointments include:

  • Guaranteed appointments prevents a congregation from hiring or firing a clergy person based on her or his race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • Guaranteed appointments prevents a congregation from hiring or firing a clergy person in response to their prophetic voice in the pulpit or pushing the congregations in directions that they do not wish to go.

Guaranteed appointments don’t make a difference in these areas of potential influence of the congregation. It is still up to the Bishop with the guidance of the cabinet to appoint clergy to churches. I trust the bishop and cabinet to be responsible and faithful in the appointment process. An open communication channel between the District Superintendent and the clergy person will prevent trouble in these areas.

If clergy are not guaranteed appointments, will churches be guaranteed to have clergy assigned to them?