Friday, February 17, 2012

Chess, Pawns, and the UMC System

Mac is moving in June.

He told me on Friday morning, when I called him about something totally unrelated. I was about to say goodbye when he said, "I have to talk to you."

It's top-secret right now (he wasn't even supposed to tell me, but felt he needed to), but once the projected new pastor meets with the SPRC, word will begin leaking out and some time after that an announcement will be made from the pulpit. There will be no public announcement of who is coming to BTUMC until the third Sunday of May, and even I don't know who that is (Mac does, but he's not telling me). Mac is keeping the news of where he is going mum, although I have a good idea where he is going, simply because I have a knack for that.

He wasn't supposed to move. He was expecting to be at BT for another few years. However, we didn't pay our apportionments (our tithe to the larger church, which was over $100K this year) in 2010 or 2011, and that's turned out to be a BIG DEAL. Of course, the reason we didn't pay this year was largely due to the antics of the Three Musketeers. Matt (the finance chair) acted like he was upset that we didn't pay apportionments, but in reality...I don't think he cared that much.

In a system where the major indicator of pastoral effectiveness is whether or not a church pays its apportionments...not paying apportionments is a BIG DEAL, and apparently the way the Cabinet is punishing pastors/churches who don't pay apportionments is by moving them, saying that their "gifts are needed elsewhere in the annual conference."

Reportedly, Carrie (Staff-Parish chair) was "giddy with excitement" when she heard the news, and my response to that was, "what a %$#@! And while she may be sworn to secrecy right now, as soon as a meeting is held with the new pastor, she will be able to share the news with the other Musketeers. They can cackle in glee together.

Meanwhile, I'm sad that Mac won't be at BT next year (even though I won't be, either, but I liked the idea of coming back and having him there). I'm angry on his behalf that he's having to move (not out of the area, but he will have to sell his house and move to a parsonage) because of the resistance that he experienced from these three people. I'm also sad for BT...because the vast majority of people will be very upset when they find out Mac is leaving.

And honestly...I guess I'm angry with and struggling with the concept of a system that treats clergy as pawns to be moved around the "board" of the Annual Conference at will...with very little input. And a system that penalizes clergy for not paying apportionments, even though so much of that may be out of their control (for example, at the finance meeting where we voted to pay or not pay apportionments, Mac and I were the only holdouts...everyone else voted to NOT pay apportionments).

I'm also anxious about my own appointment...and I probably won't hear from my DS until March or April. I'm on the list for potential associate pastor positions, and am hoping that I might get a call for an interview for one of those. We shall see.

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