by Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
As we prepare for the appointment year in 2022, the Cabinet has agreed upon a practice that I have been using for almost my entire episcopal career: the posting of clear openings of churches so that clergy can put their names forward if they are interested in a church listed.
This is how it works: When there is a clear appointment opening at a local church due to retirement or transitionary move for a variety of reasons, we will post the church and a brief description of that setting. Clergy are free to discern if there is a call to this local setting, and can confidentially put their name forward to be considered by the Cabinet. There is absolutely no guarantee that a clergy will receive that specific appointment, but as the Cabinet makes a list of candidates, all clergy who put their names forward will be prayed over and considered. Clergy who wish to put their name forward will contact their District Superintendent of record, and then the DS who oversees the appointment where they would like to be considered. Clergy have the option of confidentially sharing this inquiry with their current Staff-Parish Relations Committee or Chairperson, but this is not required. We will only post the clear opening churches once as we start the appointment process, and as we make appointments, additional churches will not be listed. The reason for this is it becomes too complicated to track and post openings in the middle of the appointment process.
We want to emphasize that this is not moving to a “Call System” as in other denominations, as the Cabinet has the sole responsibility to make appointments based on the best possible match between clergy and local church. It does open up a transparency about the appointive process, and we hope that it allows clergy to feel a part of the appointment process.
My own philosophy of making appointments is that we try to follow a strict value system that is based on the following diagram:
As a Cabinet, our first consideration is the Will of God, and we try to discern what God wishes for every appointment. This means we are in deep prayer and discernment over every appointment, as we attempt to seek God’s will. Our second level of priority is the Kin-dom of God through the surrounding mission field and neighborhood where the church is located. We would like to make appointments to the mission field and not just to the local church, as John Wesley advocated for, and Asbury and Coke practiced in early Methodism. Our third priority is the local church and laity, as they are the heart and soul of each single appointment. Our fourth priority is the clergy themselves, as we practice servant leadership, we are there to serve and not be served. The lowest priority for us is the annual conference, Bishop and Cabinet, as we should exemplify what it means to serve.
Our UMC appointment system isn’t perfect by any means, but we seek to follow these tenants as faithfully as we can, and there is a constant call to match our clergy’s gifts and graces with those of each local church so that the best possible spiritual match can be made.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call your own District Superintendent, or reach out to me if I can be helpful. We pray that you will be open to this new way of doing appointments and that it will be healthy and life-giving.
Be the Hope,