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To be United Methodist: Moving pastors

Our pastor is being moved to another church. How is this decision made?

In The United Methodist Church, clergy appointments are made annually by the bishop, who has the responsibility for setting all the pastoral appointments in the conference. This unique system of assigning clergy dates back to John Wesley. Congregations in The United Methodist Church do not "call" or "hire" their pastor. The system is called "itinerant" or "itineracy."

Each year, usually in the fall or winter, the Staff/Pastor/Parish Relations Committee consults with the district superintendent and communicates if it desires a change in pastoral leadership. Recommendations of the committee are advisory only.

Pastors also can indicate annually whether they wish to stay at their current appointments, wish to move to another appointment or have no preference. However, they are not assured that they will get their first choice. Elders and local pastors in The United Methodist Church agree to serve where sent and to accept and abide by the appointments. Deacons, on the other hand, generally find their own employment in a local congregation, elsewhere in the connectional system or outside the church and then request their bishops to appoint them to those ministry settings. 

The bishop and the cabinet (all the district superintendents in the conference) look at appointment needs throughout the conference, taking into consideration the needs of each church, the gifts and talents of each pastor and other circumstances in the conference. They then determine the appointments for each church in the conference. The bishop will "fix" the appointments at the annual conference meeting each year. These meetings usually take place about April, May and June.

Your pastor or your district superintendent can answer other questions and address any concerns you have about the system of appointing pastors in The United Methodist Church.


View more at Ask The UMC.