Monday, June 14, 2010

Annual Conference- Last Day

As most of you know, I came home from Conference on Saturday night so I could preach on Sunday at Spirit Song and at the 10:55 service. Stacey Beeler spoke at and Greg Force led the 8:45 traditional service; they did a wonderful job. I just felt that I wanted to be in Spartanburg rather than Florence. I also wanted to be here so that I could lead the church in wishing Charlie Graves a happy 90th birthday.

Yesterday the SC Annual Conference concluded its business by passing the budget for another year which included some increase, around 3%. Things were trimmed over the last few years, as in the local church, due the economic downturn. This year, we upped the DS salaries which had been cut last year. We also added a new staff person, a Comptroller, to the staff in Columbia. The reason is that we were paying some $55,000 dollars for an outside audit each year. So, we will hire someone who can stay on top of it in-house.

Conference was scheduled to end around noon, but because of some extended debate about the resolutions, they ended around five pm. Annual Conference ended, as it always does, with the fixing of appointments. Each pastor is appointed/sent to their place of service. I will return for my fifth year. My associate, David Smith, will return for his ninth year.

This "fixing" of appointments is an old Methodist tradition. Back before my time, some tell of not knowing where they were going for the next year until Annual Conference. District Superintendents would approach you at Annual Conference to tell you where you were going and then the Bishop would read each appointment (in SC there are 800 pastors) one by one. Pastors left Annual Conference to return to tell their families and their churches what was going to happen.

Over my ministry, we have developed something called "consultation". Each year the District Superintendent meets with each pastor and hears from each church via the Staff-Parish Committee and then makes a decision about whether the pastor moves or stays. If there is agreement all around, then usually that agreement is honored. However, we all know how it works. The longer a Methodist pastor stays in an appointment the greater the chance that he/she will be at least considered for a move. In our system, when one pastor retires, dies, or is otherwise moved, another plus several others must be moved to make it work. We are so excited to be returning for another year to Bethel.

I will comment some this week on the meaning of "ordination" in our church and the Annual Conference.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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