Six years ago, merely six months into this call to be bishop, I wrote an e-news article titled “Myth Busters.” In it, I chronicled NC Synod misinformation—much of it somewhat pervasive—around issues such as conflict, transitions, call process, etc. My intention was to continue Myth Busting around NC Synod policies and processes every several months as part of my e-news reflections, but so many other things have been happening simultaneously that I never revisited it. Until now. These are mostly related to pastoral or deacon transitions; i.e., the call process.
- “The bishop took him off the roster for…” Nope. Bishops can’t take anybody off the roster. Only Synod Councils can, and then after a lengthy process involving convening the Assembly-elected Consultation Committee, which makes a recommendation whether or not to convene the Assembly-elected Discipline Committee, which after thorough investigation makes a recommendation to Synod Council as to the roster status of the rostered minister in question.
- “’Don’t swing at the first pitch’ in the call process, i.e. don’t move forward with any of the first set of names the synod staff gives you to interview. They’re only trying to dump the B-Team on you of pastors who haven’t been able to get a call for years.” In fact, the synod staff spends probably more time in the call process than in any other single area, and we seriously vet candidates, read MSPs and RMPs , and work diligently to find the best matches. In our opinion, the first names we give you are often the best matches we have for your congregation.
- “Don’t believe them when they tell you they only have one interim available. They have a whole stable of interims out there, so hold out for the one you want.” Sadly, we have quite a number more vacant congregations now than we have available interims. Especially since COVID-19 started two years ago. And most interims now don’t work every Sunday but take one or even two Sundays off per month.
- “The synod is going to make you call a _______.” Nope. We recommend names, we provide information, we help negotiate and guide, but ultimately all congregations can issue their own calls. While we will strongly encourage you not to shoot yourself in the foot by limiting the candidates you might interview, in the end you can call or not call the one to whom you feel God is leading you.
- “You have to be vacant at least the same number of months as the number of years as your pastor was there to give you time to grieve your pastor’s leaving. So if your pastor was there 20 years, you have to wait at least 20 months.” We hear this one A LOT! Not true. Never was. And if it had been, it would’ve been both absurd and arrogant. Methodists seem to do fine with the old pastor there one Sunday and the new one there the following one. So, no.
Stay tuned—and we won’t make you wait six years next time—for another episode of “NC Synod Myth Busters!”