Itinerancy and United Methodist Ministry

It has now been more than two years since I began the process transferring my ministry to the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.  This past year my ordination was recognized and I was commissioned as a Provisional Member of the Conference.

As I have been working towards the day when I hope to be an “Elder in full connection” in the Conference I have been both studying United Methodism and also living out the life of a new United Methodist pastor serving in my first appointment in the UMC.  It has been an exciting two years serving at First UMC in Cedar Falls.   I have had a great time helping the church in Transformation worship, preaching in both contemporary and traditional worship settings, and working with a great Senior Pastor and staff at the church.  It has been a blessed two years!

Early on in the process with the Board of Ordained Ministry and the PARC Committee I was asked if I understood that United Methodist pastors are itinerant.  Itinerancy is the means by which United Methodists deploy their pastors to meet the needs of the entire Church by placing pastors where their gifts and graces can best be used.  The committee needed to know that I both understood the itinerant nature of Methodist ministry and that I supported and was committed to being an itinerant Elder in the UMC.   I indicated that I did understand and was fully ready and willing to commit my ministry and my life to going where the Bishop and the Cabinet decide to send me.

Well now the first opportunity has come for me to act on that understanding and that promise.  Today it was publicly announced that Bishop Trimble has appointed me to be the next Senior Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Sioux City, Iowa.  My appointment will begin around July 1st.  During the coming weeks I will be ending my ministry with the fine people at Cedar Falls First UMC and doing what I can to help pass the ministry on to whomever the Bishop appoints to succeed me.  My wife and I will be packing and getting ready for a move to the Sioux City metro area some time near the end of June.  And then we will begin another exciting chapter of ministry with our United Methodist family at Grace UMC.

In my ministry I have pastored a number of churches.  It is always hard to say goodbye to people you’ve come to love and care about.  This time it will be hard because I will be saying goodbye to my first UMC church family and they have been a blessing to me!

At the same time I am very excited as my family and I look forward to new ministry.  I am excited for the opportunity to get to know the people of Grace UMC and serve the Lord with them!  I look forward to new ministry opportunities with another great UMC church.  I’m looking forward to getting to know the community around Grace UMC, which includes the Morningside neighborhood, and Morningside College.

In God’s ministry it is always good to be ready for the next adventure that God is sending you on.  And like the itinerant Methodist preachers who traveled on horseback to share the gospel of Jesus with a needy world, it is best to travel light.