Wednesday, April 20, 2005

MORE THAN ANOTHER PASTOR LEAVING

itinerancy:

"The system in The United Methodist Church by which pastors are appointed to their charges by the bishops. The pastors are under obligation to serve where appointed. The present form of the intineracy grew from the practice of Methodist pastors traveling widely throughout the church on circuits. Assigned to service by a bishop, they were not to remain with one particular congregation for any length of time." Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press.

I knew that it would happen sooner or later but I was really hoping for sooner. I received a call from my really good friend and mentor- Michael Williams. "Jonathon", he said, "I don't know if you are interested but my church, Blakemore, is looking for a part time youth pastor. I know that you are in full time youth ministry, but I had to lay it out there."

Things had not been going well at my church. I had said at one point that if the opportunity to work alongside Michael came available, that I would jump at it.

So I left the 1400 member church in the suburbs for a 250 member church in the city. I was pleasantly suprised at the casual nature of this church- the people were friendly, eclectic, and diverse. Michael, a story teller, writer and poet, fit in well with many of the artists who attended. I found myself as a song writer and poet to feel very much at home at Blakemore, this quirky- semi-traditional-but-open church.

Over the years there have been many rocking chair chats in Michael's office- ranging from displeased parents, gang related youth in our youth group, hospitality, to visiting monastaries and praying the hours.

Michael has been more than just my senior pastor or mentor. He's been a deep friend, the kind of friend that makes you want to be more than you are, but by the time you realize it, you've accomplished being more. He's like a dad- that helps me face the truth in myself but does so in a way that I don't ever feel like I've let him down. He's like a sage that I want to sit at his feet and soak in as much as I can because it always seems like whatever I find interest in- he already knows about it, has resources on it and guides me to it in profound ways. But mostly he's simply Michael- my good friend whom I have a special kindred spirit with. It is rare to have a friendship/ professional relationship such as that.

I knew that it would happen sooner or later, but I was hoping for later rather than sooner. Last Sunday, Michael and I were hanging out after a meeting and he informed me that the Bishop was moving him from Blakemore UMC to
1st UMC Hendersonville
. I think I took it well, but it hit like a ton of bricks. My first thought that went through my mind was, "What the hell am I gonna do now? It won't be the same."

But then after I slept on it I became thankful for our system of itenerancy in the methodist tradition. Someone else is going to benefit from the gifts that Michael brings to a church. And Blakemore will be pulled and nurtured by a pastor who brings differnt unique gifts. And I will remain at Blakemore working towards developing our congregation as a "practicing church", a church rooted in practicing it's faith- or what Mr. Wesley would have called the Means of Grace.

Michael, I will miss walking upstairs and sitting in your rocking chair, but I look forward to driving across town and finding the same rocking chairs and having the same rocking chair chats, just in a different location.

5 comments:

the reverend mommy said...

I'm feeling it for you and with you. I'm sitting on pins and needles because I *still* don't know where I am going to be come 1st of July. The UMC. You have to love itineracy or you have to ... leave.

St.Phransus said...

ha ha, you've got that right. For a church that takes pride in the "middle way"- there's not much middle way in this practice. Good luck and shalom with your appointment.

jonathon

lynnette said...

i don't at all understand itineracy. i can barely even spell the word.

Eric Coomer said...

As a preacher's kid, I have seen it from the other side of the parsonage door. I hate it. I love it. It made me who I am today.

My father was always a transitional pastor... the one who came in and ruffled feathers. So, we moved every three or four years.

When learning of the itinerancy tradition in the United Methodist church, one of the kids in our church's confirmation class said,
"Oh. We just learned about something like that... It's called the feudal system... also known as the futile system. I guess that makes the bishop the king"

Interesting theory.

Anyway... Someone else will benefit from coming to Blakemore. Someone else will benefit from working with Jonathon Norman.

I have yet to experience this side of the itinerancy. My pastor came to my church around the same time I did, six years ago. I dread the day, so I feel your pain and will be thinking of you all in the coming days.

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