Shedding Light on the Charge Conference

Shedding Light on the Upcoming Charge Conference

February 15, 2017

Dear BSUMC Family,

Since the announcement of a Charge Conference to be held on Sunday, February 26, was sent by e-mail on February 14, we have heard from many people asking about exactly what this personnel matter might be and how it will impact our ministry.

Let me begin by saying that we do not anticipate any changes in the existing ministerial staff in 2017, except for the retirement of Rev. Jerry Hill in June.

Some months ago, Dr. George Howle, our District Superintendent, came to see me about the situation at Trinity UMC on Augusta Street in Greenville. A once-thriving congregation with a great location and good facilities, it has dwindled to a current worship attendance of about 40. George came to ask if we would consider “adopting” Trinity and making it a satellite campus of Buncombe Street. My first response was, “No.” I had just arrived and had more than enough on my plate just getting to know the people and the needs of the church to which I was appointed. After several other conversations, I said that I would invite him to talk to our Executive Committee and pitch his proposal to them. This conversation took place recently and ignited both excitement and caution. I understand both of those responses. To understand exactly what we are being asked to do and to look at the overall pros and cons, we have named a team of five highly-qualified Buncombe Street leaders to spend a few weeks gathering information, analyzing what this opportunity might hold for Buncombe Street, and making a recommendation to the Church Council.

If the Church Council votes to move forward on the Conference’s request, we will receive a new pastor on the staff at Buncombe Street on or about July 1, 2017. It is this appointment which will be discussed at the upcoming charge conference. This process is somewhat convoluted because of delays that were out of our control, and now a process that should have taken place over a period of three months must be accomplished in a tight window of about three weeks. Those issues have now been resolved, but the appointment of a pastor must take place this month – hence, our scheduled charge conference. Once appointed, and if the adoption is approved by the BSUMC Church Council, this pastor will lead the work of establishing Trinity as “Buncombe Street UMC, Trinity Campus.” If the BSUMC Church Council decides not to adopt Trinity, the new pastor will be appointed to Trinity with some support from the Conference.

God is in the middle of this, but God rarely cares about protecting worn out systems and antiquated processes. God is the God of the future. As we look forward and consider this issue, our only question should be, “Is this an opportunity to expand our mission to be and make disciples of Christ?”

Robert J. Howell, Jr.