Guaranteed appointment ended

The Rev. Sandra Bonnette-Kim, a delegate from the New England Annual (regional) Conference, is flanked by several supporters as she speaks May 2 to the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. Bonnette-Kim criticized the May 1 vote to eliminate guaranteed appointments for elders. She said the move would adversely affect women and ethnic minority clergy. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

General Conference delegates agreed today to end guaranteed appointment for ordained elders, a key change sought by reformers who said removing ineffective clergy must be easier.

The measure passed in committee overwhelmingly. But it was amended with accountability provisions, including creation of a panel to advise the bishop on qualities needed in deciding on appointments. 

Early this morning, the full General Conference approved the amended measure as part of the consent calendar, without debate.

An effort to bring the measure back up failed, with 373 voting for reconsideration and 564 against.

The motion to reconsider prompted debate, with some delegates saying guaranteed appointment helped protect the rights of women and minority clergy.

The Rev. Eric Park, a delegate and district superintendent from Pennsylvania, noted that much of Monday’s plenary was given to discussion of whether U.S. bishops should be subject to term limits.

“Justice demands that same kind of treatment” for guaranteed appointment, he said.

But the Rev. Ken Carter, a delegate and district superintendent from North Carolina, and a member of the Study of Ministry group that recommended the change, argued that it was time to act and move on.

He said while the public mission of the UMC is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, “our private mission has been to provide appointment for elders.”


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11 Comments on "Guaranteed appointment ended"

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I think it is time for this to happen. I know of several cases where a growing church has been brought to near ruin because an incompetent Pastor was moved in. There is one case where the Pastor was paid their salary to stay away from the church for a full 7 months. This person was passed on to another church and with in one year the congregation is only half of what it was when she came. With people leaving every week. They have not had one person join their church in the last year. This is not a… Read more »

I can't help but wonder if there aren't some legal issues here. Also, bishops are elders, what protects them from this decision?

I'm really conflicted on this one. In my AC I've seen incompetent clergy decimate church after church as they are passed around and also the Cabinet and BOOM spend inordinate amounts of time and agony to try to move an especially narcistic and combative clergyperson out of ministry. On the other hand, I fear for cabinets shirking the challenge of appointing women, minorities and persons with handicapping conditions and also I fear that our church can become stagnant if clergy fear to be take creative risks in ministry or "rock the boat" in for fear of being seen as troublemakers… Read more »
Thanks for your comments, Noel. What is needed now is a paper (study) from someone like you, or others, with a keen sense of discernment that could form the basis of much needed reflection… This recent action of the General Conference opens the door to self examination on the part of individuals and also as a covenanted group. Some of the blogs expressing "fear" and "unfairness", need for definitions of "ineffectiveness", etc confirm the need for the reflection I am talking about. e.g., one from rjennyhp (above) " I’d say probably only a “good luck”! And then, what is this… Read more »
It is with a deep sense of regret that I view this article. I thought that the General Conference was the place where you would be afforded the sense of fairness. I have not seen this happening. The Bishops were given life time appointments, but the Elders had the Guaranteed appointments taken away, Where is the fairness in this? This will hurt the churches, especially the small ones as they may not have the $$ to pay for clergy. There is no fairness in this at all. The clergy now have no way to protect themselves from being removed either.… Read more »

The promises and covenant made with me 25 years ago is taken away without even a debate, Shame on you General Conference.


I am sorry, rovervic. I agree that the covenant was made, and I apologize on behalf of my church for this action. No one who has not lived as part of the itinerant system for years at a time — as you have done – can possibly understand the betrayal this feels like. Don't forget — God is with you and sees you as his beloved.

roveric, I agree completely. Not just because a covenant was made, but because there are so many questions about what has really changed! If I am not guaranteed an appointment, then am I still bound by a "covenant" of iteneracy? How can I be bound to something that is not bound to me? How will I feel about "going where I am sent" if I stand at the doorstep every year of "not being sent anywhere'? Will this mean more older clergy will be pushed out by changing definitions of "effectiveness"? Will this also mean 35+ yr old clergy who… Read more »
As a military Chaplain appointed to extension ministries; I am in conflict over this new policy change for guaranteed appointments. Recently, the military had a reduction in force program where over 70 chaplains were bascially shown the door; as our number of positions decreased. When faced with this reduction; I thought that having a guaranteed appointment in my own Annual Conf. was a good thing. It gave me the "safety net" of being allowed to return to a church appointment if my position was cut. Thankfully, I was retained and continue to serve as a military chaplain. I have often… Read more »
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