Colleagues and Friends,
Currently the cabinet, pastors, staff-parish committees, and churches are working on the upcoming appointment year: July 2022 to June 2023. I have found that cabinet transparency is vital in building trust. To inform you of our process, but most importantly to ask for your prayers, I want to share the following:
The cabinet, consisting of the four district superintendents, Rev. June Jernigan, and myself will be working to make over 540 appointments between now and annual conference, scheduled for June 12-15. We are still living and moving through a pandemic. This adds to the complexity of the process.
I have said this before but there are many factors that go into this process which include retirements; churches open by the death of a pastor; pastors leaving our annual conference; local church needs and concerns; pastors’ needs and concerns; and family considerations, to name a few. The combination of these circumstances leads to many emotions. Our United Methodist appointment process is like no other mainline denomination.
What I have come to learn and have experienced is that the Holy Spirit is in this process. As unusual as it may seem, I have been so blessed by my appointment-making time. It is sacred work, and the Alabama-West Florida Conference has a Godly cabinet that makes our work deep and rich. Please pray for us!
To help guide your time of prayer, let me share how we will complete our work. We have begun discussions around possible clergy couple moves; seminary students graduating and seeking their first appointment; and those going to licensing school and seeking their first appointment. Senior pastors with an associate have shared with the district superintendent and me their needs around the associate pastor appointment. We have people wanting to transfer into the conference and those who seek to transfer out. The list of parameters we encounter is endless.
February 21-22: We will be using a new appointment tool this year. As consultations take place, the district superintendent marks each pastor as remain, must move, should move, could move or retiring. Approximately 75-80% of pastors will be marked as remain. As we begin to make some appointment projections, we may or may not communicate them out of the cabinet.
March 21-23: The cabinet will project most of the appointments during these days.
March 28-29: Those pastors moving will receive a phone call from their district superintendent to set a meeting to go over their projected appointment and pastor-parish chairs will be called and told of the projected appointment. The full SPRC will be informed and instructed to keep the appointment confidential.
April 6-7: The cabinet meets to review all projections and to make any adjustments.
April 7- June 12: The cabinet will continue to work at filling part-time appointments and other situations that might arise as pastoral introductions are made.
April 10: Pastors and churches are free to publicly communicate the new appointment unless otherwise directed by the district superintendent.
April 12: Pastoral Transition materials will be given to district superintendents to organize with their respective districts. If you are receiving a new appointment, your incoming superintendent will contact you with more details so that all may have a successful start.
In some churches we will conduct a process called off-boarding to help churches prepare for a new pastor and in other places on-boarding to help the new pastor move into his/her new appointment. Furthermore, there will be a Beginning Pastors Workshop for those who have their first appointment in our conference. That date will be released in late winter.
As you see, the appointment process is the most important work we do and one that I want to live into God’s will. I feel it is important to be transparent to all our clergy and congregations. Please be mindful that as Bishop for both the Alabama-West Florida and South Georgia Conferences, I have two cabinets and two appointment processes to complete during the next three months.
We need and appreciate your prayers.
Bishop David Graves