Bishop Grant Hagiya addressing the General Conference during the Plenary Celebration and Challenge of the Mission and Ministry of The United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Patrick Scriven.
Certainly one of the most controversial actions coming out of our 2012 General Conference was the altering of security of appointment. It has created significant buzz around the connection, and there is a great deal of anxiety about it.
I have stated this before General Conference and I want to reiterate to all of our clergy to reassure them. I believe that this action will have little affect on the vast majority of our clergy. Keep in mind, that nationally, there is an estimated excess of only 784 Elders across the whole connection! When you couple this with the huge retirement wave that will hit us with our Baby Boomer generation, we will actually be desperately needing clergy within a 15 year radius.
Some of us have argued all along that altering security of appointment has to do with missional appointment-making. What this means is that if we have a specific language pastor who is desperately needed in a changing community context, and we have a monolingual pastor who must be given an appointment, we must forgo the pastor with the gifts because we have to appoint the one who has a guarantee. This is an example of a very small percentage of our appointments, so it will not affect the majority of clergy. However, when it does happen, it will allow us to make the best possible appointment to strengthen the local church.
Although we have had some very tight appointment years in which our audit did not allow for too many local church openings, we have always been able to place all of our clergy. As I see the statistical trends, our retirements will soar in the near future, and I truly believe that we will have the opposite problem of not having enough clergy.
Please do not worry unnecessarily about this issue. If you have any specific questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact your District Superintendent, or myself.
Finally, trust in God that the church will continue to grow and thrive, and that we will have the security through Jesus Christ alone.
Be the Hope,