I went to seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary, which is not Methodist, but Wesleyan. United Methodists was the largest denomination present of the student population. I had classmates who were also from the Nazarene church, Salvation Army church, American Orthodox Church, Free Methodist Church, and many other Wesleyan traditions. One common question I got from people who weren't United Methodist was why I wanted to be an Elder in the United Methodist Church and be a part of the Itineracy system.
What is the Itineracy?
I'll start by explaining what the Itineracy system is. The Itineracy can be defined as:
In other words, it's our appointment system where Elders (or those of us who have accepted the vows to preach and serve the sacraments) are appointed to churches every year. The thing that is most commonly misstated is when a person's appointment is to a new church or charge, people say, "He/She was reappointed," when a person moves. That is true, but every pastor that year was reappointed.
You see, our Bishop appoints every pastor every year, whether it be to the church he/she is currently serving or to a different church. No matter what, the person is appointed. The language that is more accurate is that the pastor was appointed to a new church or moved.
Why Did I Choose this System?
For so many, when you look at the system from the outside, it seems stressful and it feels like there's no rhyme or reason to things. But, I love our system. The reason I love it is because our Bishop looks at every church in our conference and prays about where God is leading the conference as a whole and each individual church. Then, he asks God for direction in where pastors should be in the coming year. He then speaks to his District Superintendents (D.S.) about the churches and pastors in their districts and how they are all doing.
This system reminds me that my work in the local church is important, but it is also a part of something bigger. The vow I took at commissions is to go where God sends me, when he feels it is time. Our system relies on the lay persons in each church to help carry the spirit of the church through the years and to guide us.
Bishop Graves, our resident bishop, spoke these words in his message to our conference yesterday,
You can watch all of Bishop Grave's message here. I'm praying for my future and your future. I'm praying that God will bless Navarre and bring forth new leaders through this time of change, helping the church stay strong. Ultimately, I'm praying for God's Kingdom on earth.