I returned last week from our annual Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) meeting for the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This Board interviews candidates for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. The meeting is always emotionally draining as we interview new candidates for almost 11 hours per day for two and a half days. This year was particularly tough as we interviewed twice the normal number of candidates. The increase came because two years ago our conference reduced the provisional period from three years to two years. At this meeting, we had the last three year group of provisional members and the first two year group of provisional members all apply for status as Full Members and Ordination as Elders/Deacons.
- This year, “pending a suitable appointment” extended to all candidates – including those approved for Full Conference membership and ordination as Full Elder (FE). Why? Because once a candidate is approved FE (after PE) the minimum salary requirements increase as well. They may already have an appointment, but if it doesn’t pay the required minimum salary for Full Elders then the Conference Equitable Compensation Committee must pay toward that pastor to help them reach the minimum. Last year, the Equitable Compensation Committee was over budget by more than $150,000. Almost 40 churches received help from Equitable Compensation. All that money comes from apportionments paid by all local churches – and apportionments are being paid less and less by churches across the denomination. Considering our Conference was $800,000 over budget last year, that is a number that cannot continue and must be managed better.
- This means if the candidate is approved and there is not an appointment available that pays the minimum salary for Full Elder, they will not be ordained that year. They will not have to resubmit work to the BOM, but they will have to wait at least one year to be ordained.
- South Georgia is not the first conference to do this. Many conferences have already adopted approval “pending a suitable appointment.”