April 30, 2012

Every year the Indiana Conference has a “Make a Good Move Seminar” for clergy and spouses who are being appointed to a new church. Attendance is mandatory. This year the event is on May 18. The morning session is for clergy and spouse, but in the afternoon, the clergy and spouses attend separate meetings.

I have led the group for a few years. I really enjoy the opportunity to be with those spouses who are moving, listening to their joys and/or anxieties about going to a new church.

I usually begin with introductions and then a reflection. The reflection is based on the theme of the annual conference, which for 2012 is “Making Room” based on Acts 2:46-47. Then we break into small groups (usually 6-8 in each group) led by a clergy spouse who is not moving. The small groups provide an opportunity to share feelings about the move. There are also reflection questions to discuss using the conference theme and scripture.

Three clergy spouses from the Central District of the Indiana Conference have put together a brochure for the spouses called “A View from the Pew,” which addresses topics such as self-care, boundaries, and especially spiritual formation.
The brochure will be given in the small groups. Another brochure, which describes the annual retreat for clergy spouses each September will also be distributed.

Providing clergy spouses who are moving the opportunity to share feelings and gather resources for the days ahead is an important part of the moving experience. I am grateful that the Indiana Conference allows this program to continue.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

Is This the End of the Guarenteed Appointment

Is the guarenteed appointment gone? You judge. You can find more information at: http://calms.umc.org/2012/Menu.aspx?type=Petition&mode=Single&number=303 This petition is from the Study of Ministry(20303-MH-¶337) This paragraph was struck: ¶ 337. General Provisions— 1. All elders in full connection who are in good standing in an annual conference shall be continued under appointment by the bishop unless they are granted a sabbatical leave, an incapacity leave (¶ 357), family leave, a leave of absence, retirement, or have failed to meet the requirements for continued eligibility (¶ 334.2, .3), provided that if the elder is appointed to serve in an affiliated relationship in a missionary conference (¶ 586.4.b) and that appointment is terminated by the bishop who presides in the missionary conference, then the responsibility for meeting this obligation rests with the bishop of the conference of which the elder is a member.19 This was added: In the case that an elder or associate member in good standing is not continued under appointment one of the following steps shall be taken: a) If the elder is not continued because a missional appointment is not available, then the bishop shall recommend the elder to the Board of Ordained Ministry for transitional leave (¶XXX). b) If the elder is not continued because of ineffectiveness then the bishop shall initiate a complaint according to the processes in ¶361 at least 90 days prior to the annual conference. General conference committee amended this way: In paragraph 337.3b strike "a complaint according to the" and replace with "an administrative" Amend by inserting a new paragraph 337.4 as follows: 337.4a: “Each annual conference shall quadrennially name a task force consisting of: four members named by the Conference Lay Leader; at least two clergy members from the Board of Ordained Ministry nominated by the Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and elected by the clergy session; a superintendent named by the Bishop; and the Bishop. The task force shall meet annually to develop a list of criteria to guide the Cabinet and Bishop as they make missional appointments. 337.4b: “The Cabinet shall report the following information annually to the Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee: 1) those elders, provisional elders and associate members who have not received a full-time missional appointment and the rationale; 2) those elders, provisional elders and associate members who have not received an appointment for reasons of ineffectiveness and the steps which have been taken in the complaint process; 3) statistics by age, ethnicity and gender of elders who have not received a full-time missional appointment; and 4) learnings that have been gleaned as appointment-making is carried out in a new way. This data will also become a part of the agenda of the Committee on the Episcopacy at the conference and jurisdictional levels. This data will also become part of the evaluation of bishops by the Committee on the Episcopacy at the conference and jurisdictional levels.”

April 27, 2012

General Conference really wants to attend to the health and future of our Church. You may have read about the proposal legislation. While some reform is in order, it seems that we are just doing what we always do: tinkering with the structure, thinking that a new structure will solve our woes. Truth be told, how we are structured is important and so is how we go about getting ministry done. But the Call to Action or Plan B won't fix the Church or give it what it needs and here is why. First, the Church doesn't really belong to us. It's God's Church because it's Christ's body. We may be caretakers, but the Church is ultimately God's responsibility. Not to say that we can't shoot ourselves in the foot or cut off a leg. Because compromising the work of the General Boards will do just that. I'm not here to defend the General Boards, but I also don't want us to be so happy about cutting off ministries we need. We will just turn around and reinvent them once we have the money. Second, Methodism is a movement, so any structure will eventually prove unhelpful. Institutional structures by their nature are frozen in time. Movements move; structures stay put and therefore are outgrown. The problem is that our movement isn't outgrowing anything as a whole. Yes, there are bright spots and areas. "Nothing but Nets" is an example, growing vibrant churches are another--and there are many, just not enough. Third, Christianity always adapts to its cultural context. That's part of its genius. The Gospel has to be relevant for each new generation. Frankly, this is in the background of the gay debate. Younger people see homosexuality as an ok lifestyle. Period. To them it's not a Sin at all. And in a country that doesn't believe in Sin (not in the Original Sin kind of Sin for sure), it's hard to preach Salvation. We have to witness to the saving power of Jesus, but what we are saving people from has to be relevant to them. No amount of tinkering with Church structure will address that. Grace, Kathy

April 24, 2012

General Conference begins today. There's been a lot of talk leading up to it. We'll see what, if any, actions are taken. Are you following the results? I promise that you will be effected, even if it's just the changes to the pension program. Check out umc.org to see what's happening. Grace, Kathy

April 19, 2012

God Forgives but Churches Don't--at least their Clergy

Had an interesting conversation the other day. This came from a layperson at the church involved. It seems that a long-time pastor acquaintance confessed to having an addiction to her congregation. She did so publicly in her sermon. She explained that she was in counseling and had overcome the addiction with the help of God. It appeared to have gone well. There were sympathetic nods, but no one said anything more--at least not to her. But when appointment time came around, the church demanded that she move. Frankly, they didn't care where she went. They said that would sooner close the doors of their church than have her as a pastor. And when word spread, the church she was projected to go also declined her, using the same reasoning.

This incident raises all kinds of issues and questions. Was it unwise for the pastor to confess anything and publicly at that? Was the church's response justified? Given the rates of relapse, were the people in any danger from the pastor's addiction? How should the DS have responded? (I forgot to say that the DS acted surprised about the whole matter.)

We all know that clergy are human and, therefore, suffer from the same foibles and temptations as those in the congregation. I am sure there are people with addictions in every congregation, many to whom the pastor ministers. Might overcoming an addiction make the pastor a better counselor, a better pastor? Sadly, this pastor will not get the chance.

What is also sad is that, with this particular addiction, the congregation has a right to be concerned. But the question remains, who ministers to the pastor? If we are on this Christian journey together, what is the most loving thing to do?

Grace, Kathy

April 18, 2012

Hey, I Thought We All Itinerated?

I remember our first appointment when we were told we were going to move. I was happy to move out of the drafty parsonage and had high hopes that the next place would be better for me, our newborn baby, and my spouse. I took solace in the fact that, while difficult, moving was part of the life we had chosen. It was a price of serving God in the Church. Then I began learning how things really happened and that not all pastors were sent--some were called.

At first I was angry. As in most conferences, the bulk of churches in our conference are small. And I thought the whole idea was to grow a church, increase its ministry to the community and make a difference in the world, so that a small church could become (maybe not a megachurch) but at least a larger church. Our first appointment was a medium-sized church that acted like a small church. Part of our task was to help them actualize their potential and we did.

What I learned, however, was that the very large churches on our conferences basically told the bishop who they wanted as a pastor. And often several pastor "candidates" would actually go interview for the job. I can't tell you how this made me feel. It seemed to me that some churches were cheating. How could they call themselves UM and call their pastor?

Now, rather than get angry or feel self-righteous, I just shake my head and smile. Many times when these churches bring a pastor in from another conference, they are no better off. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Still when churches call their own pastor, I think it must have something go do with hubris. The fact that the bishop and Cabinet let churches get away with this, only says that they are afraid. The fact that our Church is a two-tiered system harms all churches.

I guess it's hard to be idealistic and work in the Church for long.


Moving or Staying?

Each year about this time, most spouses have either already asked or are still asking this question: Are we moving this year? In our conference, people are beginning to announce where they will be, so most everyone already knows. My spouse and I are staying at our church, which, while not a surprise, is still a relief.

There are many out-dated things about our UM system, but this has got to be one of them. Holding out the possibility of moving every year gets old and wears on the family. Because packing up a family and moving with all it involves, is an arduous undertaking. While, at least our conference, has said that the Cabinet does not want to move pastors "just because" and leave them for at least six years as a norm, about a third of our pastors still move each year. Go figure! Are there really that many toxic churches (probably? Maybe it's because the Cabinet doesn't do their job well in the first place--finding pastors and churches that match for maximum effectiveness.

Every year in the Spring, I usually clean closets and organize the house "just in case." While there is an upside to this, I do it mostly out of anxiety. Having moved a number of times, I want the transition to be as smooth as possible. Still it's a good chance to clean out clutter.

As you can probably tell, I'm not a big fan of pulling up stakes and moving. But I've also seen the toll that pastoring a toxic church has had on my spouse and children. I never would have chosen some of the places we've lived, but God is faithful.

Please join me as we pray for families moving this year.


April 12, 2012

Free Book for a Limited Time

Free. Free. Get the new book by Mike Slaughter and Chuck Gutensen, Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide . Here is the link:


Enjoy, Kathy

Need a Little Feedback from You

Dear Friends, What do you like most about this blog? Are the issues that you would like it to address? Please also know that if you would like to write a post, you can send it to spouseconnect@gmail.com.

The goal of this blog is to inform and inspire, but also facilitate conversation among the spouse community.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


April 9, 2012

God's Supreme Act of Loving in Grace

Hope you had a wonderful Easter. So why did Jesus have to die for us? Did a cold, angry God demand Jesus' cruel sacrifice? How did Jesus' death and resurrection cancel our Sin? These are age-old questions that have to answered for each generation.

First, I don't think the death and resurrection can be separated, because they are of one cloth. Simply put, Jesus lived, died, and rose again because God's self-sacrificing love for us. Jesus' death made concrete how much God loves us. Like many hymns say, Jesus gave it all. Through a great act of love, God fulfilled our part of the covenant. God also does this in Genesis. See Genesis 15:12-21. Here God takes the part of the less power party in a contract "signing." In Jesus,' God made Himself vulnerable--the least, the last, and the lost.

When Jesus died and the temple curtain tore top to bottom, it means that God, Himself, tore it, undoing the separation between Him and us. That is the whole point, Jesus' death and resurrection, was a continuation of Jesus' life's work: to break down the barriers that we put up that separate us from God. But also to break down unhealthy barriers between us as people. That is the meaning of the word, Sin. It means separation from God. It took God to make our relationship with Him right. That is what the word "righteousness" means--right relationship.

No, God is not a cruel tyrant demanding innocent blood. God's extreme and extravagant love was personified in Jesus. And God can indwell in us as well if we are open to seeing and believing Jesus.

Happy Easter,

April 4, 2012

Connected to God -- Connected to Each Other

Last week, Mike, my husband and I attended the funeral of the mother of one of our clergy friends. Gladys was a clergy spouse, her husband a retired pastor. We were friends and mourned deeply the loss of this almost 95 year-old matriarch of a beautiful family.

Mike and I were invited to the dinner afterwards, appreciating the hospitality the church offered.

Reflecting on my experience that day, I recalled the words that I have heard since Mike began serving in the Indiana Conference back in 1976: "We are a connectional system." As I grow older, those words appear relevant in new ways. We sat at the dinner with the senior pastor of Mike's first appointment. Dick and his first wife, Phyllis mentored us lovingly during the 2 1/2 years Mike was part of their church. Later, during the service we sat with Peggy, whom we also knew, who was one of the three presiding pastors. Mike and I had mentored her husband, Andy, when he was a member of one of Mike's churches. Andy was a junior and senior in high school at the time. I can still hear the knock on our parsonage door--Andy wanting to talk to Mike about the way he was sensing God's call to ministry. Their visits in the parsonage occurred many times. Mike has been fortunate to serve in one conference during ministry, so our connections are long-lasting and deep.

I am thankful for Gladys' last gift to me--a clearer vision about what it means to be connected to God and connected to each other in ministry.

God, thank you for the ways our lives weave in and out and together in service to you across the miles. Amen.

Jacquie Reed Fishers, Indiana

April 3, 2012


Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing a death sentence in Iran. This 34-year-old husband and father of two sons was arrested in 2009, charged with apostasy, or renouncing Islam. Nadarkhani refuted the charges, saying that he had never embraced Islam. After appealing an initial conviction and death sentence, a lower court found that Nardarkhani had not practiced Islam as an adult, but ruled that he was still guilty of apostasy since he was born into a Muslim home. Since his conviction, Iranian officials have pressured Nadarkhani to recant Christianity, including an ultimatum in December. They offered the pastor his freedom if he would say that the Muslim prophet Mohammed was a messenger sent by God. Nadarkhani refused.

(From WORLD magazine, March 10, 2012 issue.)

Please join me and pray for Youcef and his family.

Grace, Kathy

April 2, 2012

Pastor Will Not Offer Confirmation

Had a disturbing conversation this morning. It seems that the pastor of my friend's church has decided not to hold confirmation class for the children of this church. I was beyond shocked. Here's the background. The church is a small-membership church and has about 8 children in all. Of these, however, 5-6 are confirmation age--6th grade and up. While the pastor has promised to offer confirmation, he has not done so and has made no effort to see that these children receive instruction for church membership, despite being specifically asked.

I don't know about you, but to me this should be a chargeable offense for clergy. Statistics tell us that if children are not confirmed, the chance of them ever becoming active church members is great diminished. In other words, this pastor is actually pushing these children away from the church.

Not only that, but this little church really wants to grow in ministry and in numbers. It wants to pay 100% of its apportionment's--and does. It wants to be a station church again, but none of these things will ever happen if the pastor and leadership don't act.

There is just so much more that good preaching that goes into being a pastor. Care for the congregation--visiting, equipping, educating--also play a major role. We wonder why small churches struggle. Could this a reason? Where is the DS? How does the bishops' Call to Action address this?