Just to let you know, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor did not call me and ask about who should be the next Senior Pastor at First-Centenary United Methodist Church. Bishop Taylor did not base her decision on any question she may or may not have asked any of the former pastors like Al Bowles, Charles Neal, David Harr or, with all due respect, even our beloved Bishop Looney. Though, I am sure we would have some good advice.
However, she and the Holston Conference Cabinet, with input from our Staff/Parish Committee, made the decision on their own. That, in the end, is a very good thing.
It is a good thing because no FCUMC “former pastor” and, I will soon be one of them, knows the present needs of a former congregation and does not have the authority shape the mission of said congregation. If the new senior pastor asks for help that is a different story. We clergy live in covenant with one another and Holston Annual Conference and consider it a breach of ethics to do otherwise. We human beings relate differently to different people, that’s just a fact. This is simply part of the dynamic change of energy involved in the appointive process that allows for the church to build upon what has happened and to move forward to what can happen for the cause of Jesus Christ!
Our system is not perfect. Yet, when I left the Knoxville District Office six years ago, I had a large drawer full of requests and resumes from Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Catholic, Wesleyan, Nazarene, Church of God and other clergypersons who wanted to become ministers in The United Methodist Church. I accommodated one from the Nazarene Church. Our approach must not be too bad.
We former pastors of FCUMC are just that, former. Please, I hope and pray that you have appreciated us, but, do not seek guidance for the life and mission of this church from us. Our opinions should be appreciated but never definitive concerning the existential life of this church. In other words, having served here gives us no special privileges. Indeed, any participation by us in the life of FCUMC should be done with the permission and blessing of the new senior pastor. The new senior pastor at FCUMC is projected to be Rev. Dr. C. Mark Gooden.
Mark’s first sermon is on July 1 and my last sermon is June 17th. May the Holy Spirit continue to be upon us all during this period of transition.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 10:03 AM EDT