A Time of Transition

Three years ago we bought a home in Peoria and began new ministries: Carrie in Peoria and Scott in Hudson.  We were welcomed into those congregations and we have loved them, both.  It is with deeply conflicted emotions, therefore, that we share some news with our congregations, communities, family, and friends.

Bishop Frank Beard has prayerfully discerned that we will both be reappointed to new churches beginning July 1, 2017.  We will move to Collinsville, Illinois where Scott will serve as the pastor at First United Methodist Church and Carrie will be leading The Journey, a new church start of Belleville Union United Methodist Church.  She will be the associate pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Belleville primarily to be the pastor of the Journey in Freeburg.

We will be pleased to be so near to Carrie’s family in Saint Louis and we are fortunate to be a bit closer to Scott’s family in Pittsfield, but we have never been far from family and the drive has always been worth it…to do great ministry with amazing people.  Other the past seven years we have been in loving congregations doing vital ministry wherever the bishop has sent us.

Our hearts will break to say goodbye to our congregations in June.  We must pack our home and move to a new community and, certainly, we leave things behind: our hearts, prayers, and the fruits of labor (born of us and our current churches).  Though, we will also take some things with us: We take the love of our congregations, the lessons learned, and the experiences gained.  Most importantly, though, we take cherished memories and Christ-filled hearts

We mourn our losses and treasure our past experiences, but we also look forward to the ministry that lies ahead.  We know that wonderful people and experiences await us in Collinsville and Freeburg/Belleville.

Why do United Methodist pastors move?

We realize that lots of questions arise when news of pastoral moves come up.  First of all, whether you are in one of our churches or any other United Methodist Church, feel free to sit down with your pastor to learn more about why we do this and the benefits of our system.  In the meantime, click here to learn more about where this strange practice comes from and how it works.

Ministry In A New Place

Rural Church on Cape Breton Island found at: http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/slideshow-photo/rural-church-on-cape-breton-island-alma-canada.html?sid=10002142&fid=tp-5490891

 I found out last November that I would be leaving Pontiac First United Methodist Church as they began the process of getting their budget in line and eliminated my position.  Since then, and especially after we announced that I would be moving, I have been asking myself a lot of questions about where my gifts and liabilities lie and I’ve been pondering what sort of church setting would be “right” for me.

As you might imagine, there is a lot of anxiety as you wait for the Bishop to make a decision about where to send you, especially when you are one half of a clergy couple, as I am.  I mean, what affects me also affects my wife’s career in a big way.  Well, here I have been; waiting…and pondering…and filled with anxiety and I, then, suddenly found myself at peace this week.

What happened last weekend?  Did I get answers? No.  Did I have a revelation about my gifts for ministry?  No.  Did I realize where the perfect church might be?  Nope.  None of the above.

First of all, I thought about all of the people who don’t have jobs and that put my job security in perspective.  I have a job.  That is not a small thing these days!  I thought about the way, in some other denominations, pastors have to find their own jobs and I realized that my wife and I could be sending applications out trying to find a magical place where we could be in ministry within driving distance of one another.  What a headache that would be.

More importantly, I put my trust in the Bishop and cabinet.  Oh, now, I’m not overly idealistic about our system and I know its not perfect…yet as I’ve begun to look at the churches that are opening up on my conference’s website, I realize that I cannot know which church would provide me an opportunity to stretch my legs, I don’t know the churches well enough to know where I might be effective in ministry and helpful to that church, and I would be at a loss to know which churches would be supportive and nurturing to a young, new pastor like me.

A peace came over me when I realized that there were people who may actually know something about these churches and, because my District Superintendent has spent time with me, I realized there is a Bishop and cabinet that know something about me.

There are people who are looking over these churches and my fellow clergy and I and they see a bigger picture.  They aren’t infallible and they don’t always get it right, but I was able to let go of some anxiety.  Also, I simply realized that I have no control over the situation.  Hey, there’s no reason to hold onto anxiety when one has no control over the situation.  But most importantly, I looked back on my ministry, so far, and I thought about the people with whom I have done ministry.   No matter where I was:  Northern Wisconsin, Southern Illinois or the NorthShore of Chicago I found good ministry.  Not because I -or the church- was perfect, but because churches are a place of people and God.

Each community and the church I served in that community was filled with people who were yearning to love and be loved.  Rev. Victor Long used to say, when I worked with him in Marion, “I’ve never had to convince a person that they were a dirty rotten sinner” but it is surprisingly hard to convince people that God really loves them.

People everywhere need to know they are loved and can, themselves, be freed to act with love.  Each church has possibilities for great ministry: from the smallest country church to the largest ‘mega’ church.  Eventually my appointment will be announced and I will have new anxiety about different questions, but, for now, I’m going to trust the United Methodist Church, try not to think about it, and find peace that great ministry can happen wherever I might go.