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?
Some of the hoopla around guaranteed appointments is around the question – How do you determine what makes for an effective clergy person? That’s easy. Straight from paragraph 340 of the Book of Discipline, an effective clergy person will…
- love God and love their neighbor.
- preach, teach, lead worship and engage people in witness.
- provide spiritual guidance.
- marry and bury.
- visit people in their homes to provide care.
- practice integrity in maintaining confidences.
- be responsible for sharing baptism and holy communion.
- provide administration for the local church, annual conference and general church.
- be inclusive.
- live as a servant leader.
- organize the church to live out their faith in the world.
- equip others in the care and spiritual formation of others.
- work for unity in the church.
If a clergy person is gifted and effective in these things, there will be clear evidence in the church.
A clergy person with evidence of gifts and effectiveness will continue to be appointed regardless of her or his appointment being guaranteed.
If I could change one thing in the United Methodist Church today, I would end guaranteed clergy appointments. Here are the top 10 reasons to end this practice:
8. Ineffective clergy will be more easily removed from leading a United Methodist church.
7. Effective clergy will be responsible for a increasing number of churches.
6. The circumstances that called for guaranteed appointments have changed.
5. A guaranteed job can foster complacency.
4. Provisional clergy would not be refused ordination based on availability of an appointment.
3. Continuing to do things the same way will not bring different results.
2. It would put an end to the advice to “Be a pastor only if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else.”
1. Over time, the overall effectiveness and competency of clergy in the United Methodist Church will increase thereby aiding the church in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Last night was the clergy session of the Kansas West Annual Conference. My name was raised under the following questions:
31. Who are elected as members in full connection? b) Elders
33. Who are elected for ordination as elders?
Along with 8 other elder and 2 deacon provisional members, I walked in to Mabee Arena at Kansas Wesleyan University. This was the first year that clergy session had been held at this location. All of the clergy were seated on the bleachers on one side of the arena with a table and podium set up on the court. Bishop Jones had us turn to face him, away from the clergy, while the votes were taken for each one of us. One vote as a member in full connection in the annual conference and one for ordination as elder. I remember looking up at the ventilation system, the empty folded up bleachers across the arena and glancing at Bishop Jones as he asked the clergy session to vote for my election. Then I heard, “He is elected.” I found out later from my Dad, that it was at 7:54 PM.
I was expecting the result of the vote to be affirmative. It wasn’t particularly overwhelming emotionally, however I do remember trying to soak in all the details of what I was seeing and hearing as I thought, “This is a marker point in my life.” It did feel good to turn around and see the clergy session applauding at the end of the election of all those to be ordained. I looked back and forth across the full bleachers as I wanted to look at everyone who was there, or at least in their general direction. I remember making eye contact with my Dad who was standing to applaud and wearing a brown United Methodist Shirt from Zimbabwe. Later in the clergy session, I remember looking at my Aunt Karen Fieser, who was retiring as she was voted on for retirement.
Later today is the presentation for the potential covenant partnership between the Kansas West and Zimbabwe East Annual Conferences. This evening is the Taste of Zimbabwe dinner. I am looking forward to both with a bit of anxiety and excitement.
I just read the following article: Lutherans to Allow Sexually Active Gays as Clergy.
In addition, the ELCA Adopts Full Communion Agreement with the United Methodist Church.
I am not sure how these are going to co-exist. According to the above article, “Full communion makes possible a variety of joint ministries, sharing of resources and interchangeability of clergy.”
How will clergy be interchangeable among the denominations if there is disagreement about whether a self-avowed, practicing homosexual can serve as a clergy person?
Thursday and Friday I am at a gathering of 10 young adult leaders to discern best practices for supporting clergy in the UMC. I invite you to join us live and contribute:
I and others are live blogging the event. It’s fun.
I invite you to check it out
The final quote from Bishop Jones for this week is striking in its simplicity and profundity.
United Methodist clergy live in their conference.
I have heard this many times from Bishop Jones and each time he makes sure that the audience takes time to let it sink in. It has implications for ministry, relationships with other clergy, the atmosphere of the annual conference, serving beyond the local church, seeking revival in different places and many others.
Ponder it for a while.
It has continued to grow on me.