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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Many clergy and congregations embark on a new season of new appointments

    June 25, 2024 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    It’s a season of change. While not every church and congregation experience it at the same time, many are preparing to say goodbye to their current pastor and welcome a new one. Most appointments typically begin on July 1, but this timetable can vary. None the less, change in pastoral leadership is something constant in The United Methodist Church.

    “I have often said that I have never had a bad pastor. And I truly mean it. No, I am not naïve. I know that different pastors have different gifts and graces, and that some are more talented than others. But as I reflect on my faith journey, each pastor in all the churches I have attended has taught me something new, has encouraged my faith, and has brought me closer to God,” explains Dr. Brian Mitchell from Shenendehowa UMC in Clifton Park, NY.

    Dr. Mitchell’s church is in the process of saying goodbye to their current pastor who is retiring, the Rev. Lee Carlson, and awaiting the arrival of their new pastor, the Rev. Justin Hood. He recalls all the ways, big and small, Rev. Carlson influenced his faith journey.

    “Each pastor in all the churches I have belonged to has touched me in tangible ways. Rev. Carlson once taught that the Jewish day starts at sunset and thus God is starting the day while we are sleeping. That comforting thought is often on my mind when I wake up and say my morning prayers – a reminder that God is always alert and always in charge. I will be forever grateful for the support Pastor Lee gave my dying wife and me during her last year.”

    According to the Book of Discipline ¶ 425, clergy are appointed by the bishop and are “made with consideration of the gifts and evidence of God’s grace of those appointed, to the needs, characteristics, and opportunities of congregations and institutions, and with faithfulness to the commitment to an open itineracy.”

    Both Dr. Mitchell and Brenda Morrow from Schenectady: Eastern Parkway UMC serve on the Staff or Pastor-Parish Relations Committee (SPPRC) at their respective churches. They both play intricate roles in the introduction and farewell of pastors.

    “Our last transfer of a minister was via retirement four years ago in the middle of COVID. That made it especially difficult to welcome a new pastor, but we had known about the retirement for some time and had an opportunity to prepare. Because of the pandemic, our goodbyes and hellos took place over Zoom,” Morrow explains.

    “Being on SPPRC during a transition can be busy and anxious, but God is faithful, and God is guiding us through the process. We worship an awesome God. Our God is unchanging and ever present, but human pastors will always come and go. Perhaps in the itinerant Methodist system, they move more often than in other faith traditions, but all human pastors are transient. But each one of them can bring us closer to the one true God.  So, I am sad to say goodbye to our current pastor and yet I am also looking forward to our next pastor,” remarks Dr. Mitchell.

    In a personal account that echoes the sentiments of many in similar situations, the Rev. Christine Mitchell of the Richfield Springs Church of Christ Uniting shares her journey through the appointment process. Facing the move from Honeoye Falls UMC due to a shift to a part-time pastor role, Rev. Mitchell’s story highlights the mixed emotions and spiritual reliance that characterizes these transitions.

    “For most pastors, there is a sense of anticipation come January,” Rev. Mitchell reflects. “Will this be the year? Will this be when I get a call from the District Superintendent? Over the last couple of years, I wondered, as I earned my Master of Divinity (MDiv) and worked closer to commissioning, whether my time would be coming or where I am for a little longer. Each year passed, and I did not get any calls, and I was thrilled to continue my ministry at Honeoye Falls UMC,” said Rev. Mitchell.

    “However, this year was different. We began to look at the budget and the difficult decision for the church to drop from a full-time pastor to a part-time pastor was made. I knew I would be moved because of my commissioning. I spent three months discerning and working with Honeoye Falls UMC to move forward to a half-time pastor as of July 1. As emotional as it was, my SPRC chair walked beside me and reminded me that it is time to bless another congregation with my gifts and talents.”

    As she settles into her new role, Rev. Mitchell describes the transition to her new appointment as challenging, yet underpinned by a deep faith that sustains her family through changes. The move from Rochester brought both logistical issues and emotional trials. Despite these hurdles, the community’s support played a crucial role in easing their settling in. 
    “The move is further from what we have always considered “home” in Rochester. We left behind all our friends and family. Our first night in the parsonage was tough. Despite homesickness, we believe we are where we’re meant to be, trusting in God and Jesus to guide us through,” Rev. Mitchell explains. 
    Rev. Mitchell’s journey exemplifies the profound resilience and faith that many clergy bring to their new appointments. As she begins her tenure at Richfield Springs Church of Christ Uniting, her journey continues to inspire and resonate within the community, exemplifying the continuous cycle of renewal and growth inherent in pastoral duties.

    Click here for the full list of 2024 clergy appointments as of July 1, 2024.

    TAGGED / Communications / Districts

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."