First Thoughts

Upcoming Pastoral Transition

February 8, 2021

Dear First Church Family,

            On Sunday, February 7, our SPRC chair, Amy Zetzl, announced that I have been appointed to serve at Churubusco United Methodist Church in Churubusco, Indiana.  This new appointment will begin July 1s.  This news has been a shock to many, and it is quite natural to be sad or upset.  It will indeed be hard to say goodbye to all of you when that time comes in the summer.  In this letter, I would like to briefly explain why this has happened and how you as a church can move forward.

            First, as Amy stated in the announcement Sunday, this change in appointment was not requested by the SPRC or myself, but rather was a missional appointment made by the Bishop and cabinet after much discernment and prayer.  Although it will be hard to say goodbye, I have accepted this appointment and believe it will be a good one.  As a United Methodist ordained pastor, I believe that God works through the appointment process and the work of the cabinet.             

            In the United Methodist Church, all ordained elders enter a covenant with one another.  Part of that covenant is that we will go where the bishop and cabinet sends us.  The cabinet consists of the conference superintendents of our conference.  From January through May, the cabinet has many meetings to make church appointments for the appointment year, which starts in July.  The cabinet spends time in prayer and discernment as they seek to match churches in need of a pastor with someone who’s gifts will match what that church needs.  The cabinet has decided that I am the best fit for that church.

So what now?  This means that the Bishop and cabinet will now be looking to find a pastor for our church.  During this process, our conference superintendent will be in conversation with the SPRC team to hear what attributes they feel our church needs in a new pastor.  The input of the SPRC will be taken into account as the cabinet makes their decision.  This process could take a while so please be patient.  When a pastor is chosen, he or she will meet with the conference superintendent and our SPRC team to make the appointment official.  On a Sunday shortly following that meeting, an announcement will be made in church as to who your next pastor will be.

            While we are now in a moment of transition, there is still a biblical mandate to advance the Kingdom of God in Hagerstown as it is in heaven. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus even while we enter into a season of goodbye and hello.  The lost are still in desperate need of rescue, the gospel still needs preached, the hungry and hurting still need to be cared for. My hope is that we will, as I have always encouraged, keep our eyes on Jesus and live out our call.

Grace and Peace,