ALCOA, Tenn. (March 14, 2018) -- You may not know what “Appointment Making Week” is ... or that it’s happening right now in Holston Conference.
But you can bet your pastor does.
On the first floor of an office building in Alcoa, the Holston Conference Cabinet has been working around the tables since Monday morning, praying and deciding which pastors will fill the open slots in Holston’s 874 churches. Bishop Dindy Taylor leads the process with the aid of her nine district superintendents and one executive assistant.
The process actually began in January, as a prayer guide created for church leadership groups explains:
Every January and February in Holston Conference, a review begins in preparation for the Fixing of the Appointments at Annual Conference in June. This review includes consideration of the needs of the local church and the conference and the circumstances in the pastors’ personal and family lives. Discernment of the varying needs of church, pastor, and conference for the effectiveness of ministry is the vital business of the appointment-making process.
The Bishop and Cabinet gather the input from each of these, plus the information from retirements, sabbaticals, leaves of absence, departures from ministry, and new pastors. With all of these factors to consider, clearly the recommendations and decisions need to be undergirded by prayer.
(Article continues below, after this related video.)
After weeks of prayer and conversations – and beaucoup paperwork – Appointment Making Week finally arrives each spring. On Monday morning, March 12, the Holston Conference Cabinet (a smaller cabinet, since there are 3 fewer districts and superintendents this year) sat down and got to work.
Some cabinets have already decided and will announce their appointments soon. In Holston Conference, the tradition is for the Bishop to publicly "fix" and release the final appointments during the Sending Forth Service on the last day of Annual Conference.
However, most pastors expecting a move (and a few who aren't expecting it) will receive news of a “projected” appointment from their district superintendents during or soon after Appointment Making Week. Even if the news is good -- or your pastor stays put for another year -- Appointment Week can be stressful for clergy.
So, the Holston Conference social-media pages have encouraged church members to “be nice to your pastor this week,” letting them know of the annual decision-making process that peaks this week.
The social-media posts about Appointment Making Week have been met with a flood of prayers and shares from church members, lifting up the Cabinet and their pastors:
- "Here’s to hoping the Lord shows favor on the cabinet and the churches of Holston."
- "Prayers that the right decisions for the UMCs will be made."
- "May God guide your work."
- "God bless each one with His Joy!"
- "Praying for all preachers and especially ours."
Contact Annette Spence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information:
A Season of Prayer (Holston Cabinet)
Holston Appointment Process/ Schedule (Holston Cabinet)
What do you mean, we’re getting a new pastor? (Interpreter, 2014)
To Be United Methodist: What is “itineracy”? (Interpreter, 2015)
Appointment Making (Book of Discipline, 2016)
Photo caption: Holston Appointment Cabinet, clockwise from far right: Rev. Carol Wilson (executive assistant); Rev. Hugh Kilgore (Hiwassee District superintendent); Rev. Tom Ballard (Mountain View District superintendent); Rev. Randy Martin (Scenic South District superintendent); Rev. Jason Gattis (Smoky Mountain District superintendent); Rev. Jeff Wright (Appalachian District superintendent); Rev. Lauri Jo Cranford (Three Rivers District superintendent); Rev. Sandra Johnson (Clinch Mountain District superintendent); Rev. Brenda Carroll (Tennessee Valley District superintendent); Rev. Kim Goddard (New River District superintendent); and Bishop Dindy Taylor.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.