The Book of Discipline, 2008

This morning General Conference voted to strike language in the discipline guaranteeing appointments for “all elders in full connection who are in good standing.”

The petition was passed without any discussion on the floor…

I’ve been having long discussions with my seminarian roommate the last few nights about the pros and cons of doing away with guaranteed appointments. Apparently, the official decision making body of our denomination didn’t deem even a few questions necessary. I admit that I’m being a tad facetious given that it did make the consent calendar from the legislative committee. I still have to question how something that has been such a defining part of the way we do ministry was simply done away with before many knew what was happening.

Immediately the Twitter world went crazy. Was everyone on the floor still asleep or did they just not care that much?

I’m not saying that I don’t support the legislation. Honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about it. I worry about the appointments of many women, minorities and progressive clergy. On the other hand, I also worry about the ineffectiveness of some of our pastors. Then again, how do you measure effectiveness?


  1. Use it or lose it. Guaranteed appointments have been huge in undergirding profound prophetic and progressive ministries among us. I believe this action has come about by church hierarchy (yes, General Conference delegates and others) who, rather than deal patiently with ineffective clergy, have chosen the broad brush, effectively painting over the creative graffiti of generations in ordained ministry. This alone, perhaps with short term benefits, will be the negative legacy of this General Conference, like that of GC 1968 forbidding ordination of gays and lesbians which we are yet to overturn.

  2. As secure as it may have made us feel, the guaranteed appointment has often been a golden lifejacket. It may have looked good, but it didn’t help us float. It made more sense when pastors were able and willing to go wherever the bishop sent them and churches had lots of members with enough loyalty to stick it out in rough times. Those times are gone. Would it help to refocus on all those boomers who are retiring and the critical shortage of effective leaders? With the looming shortage, I don’t foresee caring, committed, capable pastors being without an appointment.

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