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DYK? UM's on the move

Posted: June 19 2019 at 02:22 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop and Dir. of Connectional Ministries

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It happens every year like clockwork. Appointments are made, annual conference ends, and the MOVES begin. This year there will be close to 65 clergy moves as appointments take effect over the summer.

Reflecting on the theme of annual conference, “Back to the Future”, we have come a long way in the process of clergy deployment. Even today, retired clergy reminisce about the days when they would pack up their household before annual conference and wait with anticipation until the closing remarks of the annual conference session when the Bishop would announce the appointments for clergy in the coming year.

Families waited back home in anticipation. Over the course of the next two weeks, churches said goodbye to their pastors and pastors prepared for a new ministry site. No introductions, no visit to the new community. If you look at the history of clergy appointments over the course of our 180 years as a conference, you can see that churches received a new pastor, on average, every two years in the early days of Methodism.

We have since learned that good transitions make for good ministry. Matches are made based on missional gifts and church goals. Time is given to say goodbye and a smooth transition is emphasized, with the exiting and entering pastors meeting and planning together through orientation. There are some best practices for this time of change, such as the three stages of William Bridges' Transition Model: Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings.

It is a logical progression, but sometimes we only see one part of this spectrum and forget to take into account the full journey of transition. Endings are important. Sending off your pastor in love by celebrating relationships and accomplishments help everyone prepare for what is next. It gives us time to grieve as we say goodbye and offers time to reminisce.

The Neutral Zone gives us time to explore. Explore the community, the church, the new congregation, the pastor. This is a good time for welcome, hospitality, and acceptance. It is the beginning as we establish relationships. Once the basics are established, we move to New Beginnings, the work of crafting ministry together as pastor and congregation.

The NIC Cabinet will host a Transitions Workshop for clergy and congregational leadership on August 3 at Naperville: Grace. You can learn more and register for this workshop by clicking here. Additional resources may be found under

When you see a moving truck on the road this summer, say a little prayer for those who are facing change. The truck could contain a UM pastor’s earthly possessions. Change is hard and good transitions require thoughtful attention and preparation. Blessings to all those UM pastors on the move.

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