Laity Supporting Pastoral Transitions

Within the United Methodist Church, we are in the appointment season.  This season is a time for the Cabinet to explore and discern pastoral appointments across our conference. Some of our local churches are preparing to say goodbye to their pastor and to welcome their next pastor. This transition time creates a mix of feelings for both laity and clergy. 
As mentioned, many feelings can be experienced during this time of transition; happiness and excitement about new opportunities; grief about the loss of a pastor and his/her family; anxiety about the anticipation of the arrival of the next pastor. Often times our pastor has been a part of significant life moments such as weddings, funerals, births, illness. These events can create strong connections between people and you may feel a great sense of loss with the pastor leaving. 

If you are experiencing a pastoral transitions this year,  I invite you to be aware of your feelings, acknowledge your feelings and process your feelings. Ignoring your feelings about the pastoral change can impact your interactions with the next pastor.  Besides tending to your feelings, you can also prepare yourself for the pastoral transition through these steps. Begin with prayer for your church and your leaving pastor. Participate in any goodbye activities for your leaving pastor. Prepare your heart and mind for building a relationship with your next pastor. Avoid comparisons as each person is unique in personality and style. Assist your church in remaining focused on the mission as we strive to reach out in our communities to serve and connect others to Jesus Christ. Pray even more as you ask God to prepare your heart for this pastoral change and lift up your next pastor and his/her family as they make the adjustment to a new church family, town and home.

The Cabinet has shared resources with local churches that are experiencing a pastoral transition. The intent of the resources is to help pastors and leadership teams prepare and move through this transition time. You can find leaving well resources for clergy, clergy family members and leadership teams on the conference website at Resource Library. You can find resources for leadership teams to prepare for leaving and receiving pastors in the passing baton packet, Passing the Baton Pack.
Within the United Methodist Church, pastoral appointments occur yearly. Your church may not be experiencing a pastoral change this year but as part of our connectional system you can offer support. Pray for the churches that will be experiencing a pastoral transition this month. You can find the list on the conference website under appointments. Reflect on your connection with your current pastor and your church. Identify ways you are in ministry or service or make a commitment to be involved in something. Consider how you church is focused on the mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ.