Reactions to end of guaranteed appointments
Blog Posts by Kathy_Gilbert at the GC 2012 Conversation & METHODISTBLOG.COM
Many delegates were surprised and even shocked by how quickly a far-reaching proposal that takes away the security of guaranteed appointments for ordained elders breezed by The United Methodist 2012 General Conference.
There was a motion to reconsider the item but that motion also failed by a vote of 564 to 373.
Under this new legislation, bishops and cabinets will be allowed to give elders less than fulltime appointment. The legislation also would permit bishops and their cabinets, with the approval of their boards of ordained ministry and annual (regional) conference’s executive session, to put elders on unpaid transitional leave for up to 24 months. Clergy on transitional leave would be able to participate in their conference health program through their own contributions.
Under the legislation, each annual conference is asked to name a task force to develop a list of criteria to guide the cabinets and bishops as they make missional appointments.
The cabinets shall report to the executive committees of Board of Ordained Ministry the number of clergy without fulltime appointments and their age, gender and ethnicity. Cabinets also will be asked to report their learnings as appointment-making is conducted in a new way.
“Although I knew it was coming, I’m shocked at how fast it just passed right by in front of us,” said the Rev. Gloria Kim, pastor of Marysville (Wash.) United Methodist Church and delegate of the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference. She said she is “grieving” the loss of United Methodist heritage this petition brings.
“I am a true disciple of Jesus Christ, I am United Methodist and I am an effective clergy,” she said. However, as a woman from an ethnic minority, she has experienced discrimination.
The Rev. Vance Ross, pastor of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church, Nashville, Tenn., said guaranteed appointments have been critical to discouraging cultural bigotry.
“We have put something in place that allows an awful amount of opportunity to move in ways that are not part of the diverse and including values that we get from Jesus of Nazareth.”
Security of appointment was established in 1956 to protect women clergy and later clergy of color, said the Rev. Tom Choi, Hawaii district superintendent and a member of the ministry study commission.
“These days, the group most protected by security of appointment is ineffective clergy,” Choi said. “To that point, I have sometimes felt that there has been a distortion to a line in the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition: ‘Let me be employed for Thee, or laid aside for Thee.’ The cynical side of me thinks that a handful of elders and associate members have the attitude of ‘Let me be employed for Thee, or let me be employed for ME.’
“My opinion is that the actual numbers of clergy affected by this legislation is very small.”
The Rev. We Hyun Chang, pastor of Belmont (Mass.) United Methodist Church and a delegate of the New England Annual (regional) Conference, said guaranteed appointments were represented as something outside of missional appointments.
“Without (security of appointments) we would still be a male-dominated denomination … with even smaller numbers of ethnic clergy compared to any other denominations. It has served the church missionally and I regret that is promoted as one of the reasons we are losing our members.”
In the United States, one in three churches have less than 40 in worship on Sunday, said the Rev. Ken Carter, chair of the Western North Carolina delegation and co-author of the ministry study report.
“What we have done is to displace local pastors often in poor and marginalized areas or created charges that are sometimes artificial and not helpful to the local churches to try to provide employment for elders,” he said. They have continued despite ineffectiveness and this has done harm to local churches.”
Carter said an amendment to the legislation allows for the monitoring of cabinets and bishops by an independent group of people not placed there by the bishop or cabinet.
“Most of our local United Methodist churches cannot provide continued appointment,” he said. “The future may well look more like a bi-vocational ministry for a substantial number of our clergy.”
Earlier the assembly voted down a proposal that would have allowed elders and deacons to be eligible for ordination as soon as they complete their educational requirements and after serving a minimum of two years as a provisional elder or deacon.
Varied reactions from the Filipino community could be gleaned from the face-book posting regarding the non guaranteed appointment of Methodist clergy. The following are some of them:
Lucas Jdh Not in favor, How come this was not debated on the floor and it was silently approved without knowing.
Under this new legislation, bishops and cabinets will be allowed to give elders less than full-time appointment. The legislation also would permit bishops and their cabinets, with the approval of their boards of ordained ministry and annual (regional) conference’s executive session, to put elders on unpaid transitional leave for up to 24 months. Clergy on transitional leave would be able to participate in their conference health program through their own contributions.
That’s why are under the itinerancy, we are being send as church workers , as Male and Female Clergy . I am standing for the women’s part, In 1956 this was the issue before to the women and later to all colors.
We have to mourn for this and continue the appeal…and Reoppend this again on the next GC..they have decided it already.
Lizette Tapia-Raquel It is oppressive! Our pastors have made it their life’s vocation to be pastors. It is their ministry but it is also their bread and butter. They are not contractual workers or promo girls who are hired when there is a need or if they fit a slot. Now what does a pastor have to do to ensure work?… If the problem is quality and commitment, that is the job of the BOOM.
John Philip Cruz Nakakalungkot po talaga pero no choice tayo kung hindi sumunod na lang.
Alex Pomegas This is bad news for Pastors (male and female). In my experience, I left the source of livelihood for my family in order to be accepted as a pastor. Now, I can’t go back to my previous employment because of age and long absence what would be my future without a tenured work?
Earlie Pasion My question is: why not even one of our pastors raise to debate it or take it out from the consent calendar? It was passed with a bulk of petitions in the consent calendar. The motion for reconsideration failed.
Dominador Vinluan Jr On the hand, this is good news. The mediocre pastors would be challenged to be better and strive to be excellent or else no work for them even if they are very senior pastors.
Jeffrey Galbadores I don’t think so! They are already saying that it is not applicable in Philippine Setting
Earlie Pasion – It is mainly US as the study committee said but the book of discipline won’t say that it is only applicable in the US. It will open to interpretation.
KaiZhen Granado– That could lead into a legal problem. Pastors are employees that are guaranteed with certain rights under our existing laws. Employment has nothing to do with the exercise of religion hence our church cannot invoke it should a legal issue surfaces.
It may not also fall within the scope of contractual or probationary employment. People under this contract have certain rights too. If I’m a pastor I may sue for constructive dismissal. Our church legal advisers should be consulted about this issue.
Might Rasing– In this situation, maybe, we’ll need to explore how the congregational churches “employ” their pastors. Without guaranteed “employment”, we’ll be experimenting with a “congregational” – “itinerant” system hybrid…
Darryl Osias – Because it deals with the ordained ministry, this provision is applicable to all UMC churches in and outside the US, I don’t think it is subject to interpretation, it is quite explicit… knowing how Filipino culture works, the danger here is when a pastor becomes the subject of the DS’ and the Bishop’s ire, there is a great possibility that he or she would become a “frozen delight” (pun intended) for up to 2 years… let’s see how this would play here in the Philippines…