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Skunk on the Table is a video, podcast, and article series with a focus on simple and clear conversations about topics of interest to the Virginia Conference and denomination.

In the third episode, Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert, Northern Virginia District Superintendent, and Rev. Jessie Colwell, Director for the Center of Clergy Excellence, discuss appointment season.

What is Appointment Season?

Appointment season starts in December in the local church when the local pastors meet with their Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). AT these meetings, pastors and the board share how their ministries are going together and whether they believe any change could and should be made. This information is then shared with the district superintendent who has that information for the Appointment-making process which runs from January to April.

Every year, all clergy in the conference are eligible to receive a new appointment.  Itinerancy means that all pastors take a vow that they will travel from place to place to spread the Gospel. Limited itinerancy might also be an option depending on family needs and/or spouse jobs.

What part does the Center for Clergy Excellence play in the appointment process?

This office is in charge of all the statuses for the clergy. Information is provided to the district superintendents and the Bishop for their work in the appointment process. There is a minimum salary amount based on each clergy status which is also important information for the Cabinet to have.

How are appointments made?

District superintendents and the bishop consider both the gifts of the pastor, the needs of the church, and the information from Clergy Excellence to find the best appointments for each pastor and each church.

The DSes also consider the mission needs within a district and the conference and this information may also affect an appointment.

Within this discussion, Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert shared that the process is very prayerful. Every day of appointment-making begins with worship.

What happens when appointments are made?

The local pastor appointed to a church will meet with the SPRC of that church once a decision is made.

When are appointments announced?

This year will be a change from tradition in the Virginia Conference. Instead of several appointment announcements throughout the spring, all appointment changes will be announced on April 23. Watch this video from Bishop Sue to learn more.

How many clergy statuses are there? The most common are below:

  • Licensed local pastors (part-time or full-time)
  • Lay supply
  • Certified lay members
  • Retired clergy
  • Transferred clergy from other conferences, denominations
  • Associate members
  • Provisional deacons
  • Provisional elders
  • Ordained deacons
  • Ordained elders

Lay supply is a status that has grown in the Virginia Conference in the last several years.

How will disaffiliation in the UMC affect appointments?

DS Sarah Calvert acknowledged that with disaffiliation there are fewer churches which mean fewer appointments. All elders in good status  are guaranteed an appointment in the conference. Provisionals and associate members are also guaranteed an appointment.

Some of the other statuses, especially transfers are not guaranteed an appointment.

Calvert and Rev. Jessie Colwell shared that Virginia has seen a high interest by clergy looking to transfer as some other conferences are facing large church departures in light of disaffiliation.

Colwell shared that Virginia has always been a conference that has seen a lot of interest from transfers. In the process, the Cabinet look to care for Virginia clergy first and then are open to

What kind of training do clergy experience in Virginia?

Calvert and Colwell shared that the process for clergy is vigorous and demands excellence. They shared that Virginia pastors work hard to meet these standards as the process can be both expensive and time-consuming alongside their day-to day jobs but that ultimately this excellence becomes very fruitful to the local churches and communities where the pastors serve.

“Every church should want to have a well-educated clergy. It’s something we work very hard on and it’s something that BOOM (Board of Ordained Ministry) has done an excellent job of keeping a standard that we’re trying to make sure that everyone meets. You don’t want somebody who doesn’t know theology and you don’t want someone who doesn’t know Methodist theology. That’s a big issue. We are the United Methodist Church. We appoint United Methodist pastors. They are expected to know theology, how to practice, how to worship in a United Methodist CHurch, how to do the basics, how to visit people in the hospital . These minimums are important to make sure there is some consistency,” Calvert shared.

The Virginia Conference requires at least three years of provisional residency; it takes 10 years before people can become ordained.

The process in Virginia requires two different sets of papers and in-person interviews, training in clinical pastoral education (400 hours) and a preaching class.

How can laity support clergy who are appointed to them?

“Love the people who are called to you.”  Pray for these clergy, love them, and support them.

The interview also shared some practical and logistical items like making sure there are funds in the pastor relocation fund and looking for ways to welcome them to the community such as cleaning the parsonage or giving them gift cards to local restaurants.

You can listen to the full episode or watch the full episode.

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