Holy Journey: A DS Reflects on Changes and Transitions

4/26/2018

In his weekly newsletter to the people of the Atlanta-Marietta District, Superintendent Rev. Terry Walton shared his thoughts on what it means to "journey God's call." (Photo: Terry talks with Bishop Sue.)

A United Methodist pastor journeys God’s call. In that journey there is a multiplicity of changes and transitions. Each pastor has their own story of where they were sent and when they were sent. Most will have those times of transitions that were expected and many will have transitions that came as a surprise.  Being ordained to ‘go where we are sent’ is a cozy vow until the reality of it hits our journey … then it can come in an uncomfortable and challenging fashion.

I began this journey as a student pastor in 1978 and have been sent to small, medium and large churches. I have been blessed to meet some of the most wonderful people in this world. Sharon and I have loved and been loved because of being sent. We’ve always gone where we were sent. We didn’t always understand why we were being sent to a particular church but as we look back we have better understood God’s hand at work in the appointive process. We can see how God used where we were sent to mature us and prepare us for God’s service along the way. We live today in a sense of gratitude for this appointive process of calling and then being sent.

As a District Superintendent, I have been a bit surprised at the number of us who think the ‘consultative process’ means that we can say ‘no’ to a particular appointment. Or that a particular church can say ‘no’ to a particular pastor. Consultative is an adjective that is intended to give professional advice or recommendations. It is a gathering of input and information so that an objective decision can be made. 

The Bishop and Cabinet sit in the tender and risky seat of making the objective decision of an appointment. I assure you it is a seat that is covered in prayer and holy conversation. No appointment is made lightly or without considerable thought and the seeking of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Announcement Sunday was this past Sunday for all full-time appointments (part-time appointments are in process and will be announced soon). As your District Superintendent, I want you to know that each appointment, each church, and each pastor were considered as if they were the only appointment being made. 

I am privileged to sit around the table with some of the finest persons in all of United Methodism. Each DS takes seriously their role and their call. Our Bishop lives with this process year-round in her prayers and in her thoughts yearning to make the church stronger in its witness and its outreach to the world.

Thank you for your prayers as we journey together. Thank you for your support and your willingness to go where sent and receive who is sent. God is in this … it will make sense, if not now … soon and very soon. It is my privilege to serve alongside you in this holy calling.

Interested in subscribing to the e-newsletter Atlanta-Marietta District e-newsletter Third Day Thoughts? Visit www.ngumc.org/subscribe.


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