I have been a lifelong United Methodist. One of the things, among many, that has drawn me to the church is the fact that it is a denomination with order, structure, and procedure for just about everything that impacts the life of the church. All of this unfolds in our Book of Discipline.
Recently, we learned that our Senior Pastor is being appointed to another church, Memorial Drive UMC in Houston. For those not familiar with the process of how a United Methodist Church obtains a pastor, this can be a time of uncertainty and anxiety. The good news is that because of how well things are ordered in our denomination, the process is relatively straightforward.
The United Methodist Church is a connectional denomination. This means that all leaders and congregations are connected in a network of loyalties and commitments that support, yet supersede, local concern. In part, this also means that all pastors are appointed to a church by the resident Bishop.
Because Central is the largest United Methodist Church in Arkansas, our Bishop is taking a very personal and involved interest in the process of appointing a new senior pastor to Central.
Although the Bishop makes the ultimate determination of the appointment, he also receives counsel from the five District Superintendents in Arkansas, also known as the Cabinet, and from Central’s Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). The SPRC functions much like a personnel committee and is entirely comprised of a diverse group of laity from the Central membership.
The Bishop’s desire is to make a mission field appointment, meaning that the pastor assigned to Central fits the personality and ministry needs of the Central family. As part of this process the Bishop and SPRC agree upon a profile of the expectations for Central’s Senior Pastor. The Bishop then seeks to find the pastor that best meets this profile.
The process is already underway and will involve multiple meetings and communications between the Bishop and SPRC as they seek to discern together, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, who the Bishop should appoint. Multiple pastors will be considered and reviewed. In Central’s case pastors from the Arkansas Conference and from around our jurisdiction will be considered. The jurisdiction is an eight state region in the south central part of the United States.
Once the Bishop’s decision is made, it will be announced to the Central family. Dr. Robbins will continue to serve as our Senior Pastor through June 30, 2016. The new Senior Pastor will commence ministry at Central effective July 1, 2016. As this process unfolds, please be in prayer for the Bishop, SPRC, Dr. Robbins’ family, as they prepare for transition to a new ministry field, and for the person God is preparing to be the next Senior Pastor of Central UMC.