This is, by no means, the entire word from the Book on Discipline on appointments. For matters not covered in the following text, please refer to a print version of the 2012 Book of Discipline or you can also access it online here.
¶ 425. Responsibility-1. Clergy shall be appointed by the bishop, who is empowered to make and fix all appointments in the episcopal area of which the annual conference is a part. Appointments are to be made with consideration of the gifts and evidence of God’s grace of those appointed, to the needs, characteristics, and opportunities of congregations and institutions, and with faithfulness to the commitment to an open itineracy. Open itineracy means appointments are made without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, color, disability, marital status, or age, except for the provisions of mandatory retirement. Annual conferences shall, in their training of staff-parish relations committees, emphasize the open nature of itinerancy and prepare congregations to receive the gifts and graces of appointed clergy without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, color, disability, marital status, or age. The concept of itineracy is important, and sensitive attention should be given in appointing clergy with physical challenges to responsibilities and duties that meet their gifts and graces. Through appointment-making, the connectional nature of the United Methodist system is made visible.
2. Appointment-making across conference lines shall be encouraged as a way of creating mobility and open itineracy. The jurisdictional committee on ordained ministry will cooperate with bishops and cabinets in providing information on supply and demand within the jurisdiction.
3. The United Methodist Church promotes and holds in high esteem the opportunity of an inclusive church (¶ 4. Article IV) with the formation of open itineracy (¶ 425.1).
4. Cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments are made as a creative response to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the church and in its leadership. Cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments are appointments of clergypersons to congregations in which the majority of their constituencies are different from the clergyperson’s own racial/ethnic and cultural background. Annual conferences shall prepare clergy and congregations for cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments. When such appointments are made, Bishops, cabinets, and boards of ordained ministry shall provide specific training for the clergy persons so appointed and for their congregations.
¶ 426. Consultation and Appointment-Making-Consultation is the process whereby the bishop and/or district superintendent confer with the pastor and committee on pastor-parish relations, taking into consideration the criteria of ¶ 427, a performance evaluation, needs of the appointment under consideration, and mission of the Church. Consultation is not merely notification. Consultation is not committee selection or call of a pastor. The role of the committee on pastor-parish relations is advisory. Consultation is both a continuing process and a more intense involvement during the period of change in appointment.20
1. The process of consultation shall be mandatory in every annual conference.
2. The Council of Bishops shall inquire annually of their colleagues about the implementation of the process of consultation in appointment-making in their respective areas.21
¶ 427.Criteria-Appointments shall take into account the unique needs of a charge, the community context, and also the gifts and evidence of God’s grace of a particular pastor. To assist bishops, cabinets, pastors, and congregations to achieve an effective match of charges and pastors, criteria must be developed and analyzed in each instance and then shared with pastors and congregations.
1. Congregations-The district superintendent shall develop with the pastor and the committees on pastor-parish relations of all churches profiles that reflect the needs, characteristics, and opportunities for mission of the charge consistent with the Church’s statement of purpose (¶ 421.1). These profiles shall be reviewed annually and updated when appropriate to include:
a) The general situation in which a congregation finds itself in a particular setting: size, financial condition, quality of lay leadership, special needs for pastoral ministry, and history.
b) The convictional stance of the congregation: theology; prejudices, if any; spiritual life.
c) The ministry of the congregation among its people for the sake of the community: service programs, basis for adding new members, reasons for losing members, mission to community and world, forms of witness.
d) The qualities and functions of pastoral ministry needed to fulfill the mission, goals, and special needs of the congregation.
2. Pastors-The district superintendent annually shall develop with the pastor profiles reflecting the pastor’s gifts, evidence of God’s grace, professional experience and expectations, and also the needs and concerns of the pastor’s spouse and family. These profiles shall be reviewed annually and updated when appropriate to include:
a) Spiritual and personal sensibility: personal faith, call and commitment to ordained ministry, work through the institutional church, integration of vocation with personal and family well-being, lifestyle.
b) Academic and career background: nature of theological stance, experience in continuing education, professional experience, record of performance.
c) Skills and abilities: in church administration, leadership development, worship and liturgy, preaching and evangelism, teaching and nurturing, interpreting and promoting the connectional giving system, counseling and group work, ability to work in cooperation, ability in self-evaluation, and other relational skills.
d) Community context: the ability of the pastor to relate effectively to his or her community setting, such as rural, town, urban, suburban, and so forth.
e) Family situation.
3. Community Context-The district superintendent may develop community profiles with the pastor and the committee on pastor-parish relations. Sources of information for these profiles could include: neighborhood surveys; local, state, and national census data; information from annual conference committees on parish and community development; and research data from the Connectional Table and other Church agencies. Profiles may be reviewed annually and updated when appropriate to include:
a) General demographic data and trends including age, sex, and racial-ethnic composition of the community.
b) Economic trends, including the incidence of poverty.
c) Projected community changes.
d) Other sociological, economic, political, historical, and ecumenical aspects of the community surrounding the church.
¶ 428. Process of Appointment-Making-The process used in appointment-making shall include:22
1. A change in appointment may be initiated by a pastor, a committee on pastor-parish relations, a district superintendent, or a bishop.
2. The bishop and the cabinet shall consider all requests for change of appointment in light of the profile developed for each charge and the gifts and evidence of God’s grace, professional experience, and family needs of the pastor.
3. When a change in appointment has been determined, the district superintendent should meet together or separately with the pastor and the committee on pastor-parish relations where the pastor is serving, for the purpose of sharing the basis for the change and the process used in making the new appointment.
4. All appointments shall receive consideration by the bishop, the district superintendent(s), and the cabinet as a whole until a tentative decision is made.
5. The process used in making the new appointment shall include:
a) The district superintendent shall confer with the pastor about a specific possible appointment (charge) and its congruence with gifts, evidence of God’s grace, professional experience and expectations, and the family needs of the pastor, identified in consultation with the pastor (¶ 427.2).
b) If the appointment is to a cooperative parish ministry or to a charge that is part of a cooperative parish ministry, the following shall be included in the consultation process:
(1) The prospective appointee shall be informed prior to the appointment that the charge under consideration is part of a cooperative parish ministry.23
(2) The coordinator or director of the cooperative ministry, or, if there is no coordinator or director, a representative of the staff of the cooperative ministry, shall be conferred with concerning the prospective appointment and shall have the opportunity to meet with the prospective appointee prior to the appointment being made.24
(3) The prospective appointee shall have demonstrated skills in cooperative Christian mission or show potential for the same to ensure that the cooperative venture is strengthened during the time of the appointee’s leadership.
c) If the appointment is to a position other than pastor in charge, the following shall be included in the consultation process:
(1) The prospective appointee shall be informed prior to the appointment that the position under consideration is part of a multiple-staff ministry and shall be furnished an initial written job description approved by the committee on pastor-parish relations.
(2) The pastor in charge shall be conferred with concerning the prospective appointee.
(3) The prospective appointee and pastor in charge shall meet for discussion of the job description and mutual expectations.
6. The district superintendent shall confer with the receiving committee on pastor-parish relations about pastoral leadership (¶ 427.1).
7. When appointments are being made to less than full-time ministry, the district superintendent shall consult with the clergy person to be appointed and the committee on pastor-parish relations regarding proportional time, salary, and pension credit and benefit coverage.
8. If during this consultative process it is determined by the bishop and cabinet that this decision should not be carried out, the process is to be repeated until the bishop, basing his or her decision on the information and advice derived from consultation, makes and fixes the appointment.
9. A similar process of consultation shall be available to persons in appointments beyond the local church.
10. When the steps in the process have been followed and completed, the announcement of that decision shall be made to all parties directly involved in the consultative process, that is, the appointment cabinet, the pastor, and the committee on pastor-parish relations, before a public announcement is made.
¶ 429. Frequency-While the bishop shall report all pastoral appointments to each regular session of an annual conference, appointments to charges may be made at any time deemed advisable by the bishop and cabinet. Appointments are made with the expectation that the length of pastorates shall respond to the long-term pastoral needs of charges, communities, and pastors. The bishop and cabinet should work toward longer tenure in local church appointments to facilitate a more effective ministry.
22. See Judicial Council Decision 701.
23. See Judicial Council Decision 556.
24. See Judicial Council Decision 556.
Text Source: From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – 2012. Copyright 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. From UMC.org
Image Credit: Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS