Thursday, May 17, 2012

New policy of the Tennessee Conference on Pastoral Appointments

This is the text of the email I sent to everyone of our congregation on May 16.

I received a document this week via email from the Columbia District Superintendent with instructions to "familiarize your administrative boards and SPRC committees" with it. There seems little point, in my opinion, of sending it to those folks and not to the congregation at large. I have pasted the text below. If you have questions, I will be glad to receive them and pass them to the district superintendent, but I personally do not want to try to interpret this policy on his behalf. I am informed that this policy is in effect now.

As Kevin Carroll announced a couple of Sundays ago, I have been officially notified that I will be reappointed to serve as Westview's pastor for the coming year. Cathy, Elizabeth and I are blessed to be here and are very grateful for continuing service among you all. Thank you all for your support and friendship of the past two years; we hope to enjoy a long tenure of service here to God and our church.

Here is the verbatim text of the policy:

Guidelines for Right-Sizing Church Appointments

The history and doctrine of The United Methodist Church give evidence to our connectional ministries. Every local church is related to every other local church in the connection. From the earliest days of our existence we have sought to work together in mission and ministry around the world.

In order to help churches that are struggling to pay their pastor’s salary, their apportionments, and other obligations, the Bishop and Cabinet of the Tennessee Conference have instituted the following guidelines for the appointment of pastors to churches and for realigning churches.

1) Churches that are financially able to pay 100% of their apportionments, pay their pastor(s) a salary and benefits that meets or exceeds the conference equitable compensation guidelines and support their local ministry will be considered for a full-time pastor(s).

2) Churches that request more than one pastor (an Associate Pastor or Deacon) but have not paid their apportionments or paid the Pastor’s Salary and benefits in full in the current or preceding year will not be considered for multiple pastors until the church has shown at least three years of full payment of apportionments and pastor’s salary and benefits.

3) Churches that have paid less than 100% of apportionments in at least one year of the previous ten years may be subject to a reconfiguration of pastoral appointment.
a) In consultation with the District Superintendent, the church may reduce its salary and benefits for the pastor and be appointed a pastor who will serve two or more churches. This will give the pastor a bigger responsibility, more people to serve, and hopefully a more stable ministry setting. It will give the church less salary obligations, less of the pastor’s time, and a higher expectation to pay its apportionments in full. It will also require the laity of the congregation to assume more responsibility for the ministry of the church.  
b) In some cases an ordained elder may be appointed to a charge or parish ministry consisting of several churches and multiple clergy. They may consist of some combination of the following: ordained elder, commissioned elder, deacon, local pastor, supply pastor, lay speaker. The ordained elder in charge will make assignments for pastoral care, preaching, and administration of the sacraments, and will give supervision to the clergy and the churches in the parish ministry. 
4) In a select number of cases (to be approved by the Cabinet and the Commission on Equitable Compensation) churches or charges will be considered for equitable compensation with a portion of the salary paid by the Annual Conference. But in every case the expectation will be that the church will pay its apportionments in full each year that it is on equitable compensation. If it fails to do so, it is subject to losing its salary supplement by the conference, and the church being in a reconfigured mode (see 3a and 3b above).

5) In a few cases (to be approved by the Cabinet) a church may be approved for missional support for a given period of time to enable ministry in a setting that is greatly needed but would otherwise be impossible to provide.

6) In a church in which the apportionments or salary(ies) were not paid in full for the current year, the pastor(s) shall not receive nor accept a salary raise for the ensuing year. It is imperative that the salaries of the connectional church and the missional efforts of the denomination be met as well as the salary of the local pastor and the ministry and missions in the local setting.

The cooperation of everyone will assure that the ministry of the local church, the annual conference, and The United Methodist Church remains strong and faithful to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our intent to respond to the Call to Action by the Council of Bishops in a way that fosters a new path of accountability and faithfulness. This accountability will also strengthen our ability to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”