Faith Time: Pastoral Transitions

Robin Wilson in a previous interview from 2016.

Mobile, AL (WKRG)

Here’s a look at our conversation on May 28th, 2017:

Chad: We wanted to talk about changes in your life and how the same thing has affected most churches at one time or another. Tell us how long you have been at Dauphin Way UMC and where you’re headed.

Robin Wilson: It’s been my privilege to be a pastor at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church for the last seven years. At the end of June, I will be moving to Opelika Alabama, where I will be the senior pastor of the first United Methodist Church in Opelika.

Chad: How are decisions made by pastors and churches about leaving?

Robin Wilson: In the United Methodist Church, we have a bishop who appoints clergy within geographical boundaries. For the United Methodist’s in this area, we can be appointed anywhere within the panhandle of Florida up to the central part of Alabama. It is ultimately the bishop’s decision what pastors serve in what churches, but we are very glad that it’s a collaborative effort between congregations, pastors, and the bishop. For us as United Methodist, it’s about the mission. What pastors have the gifts that certain congregations need in order to be who God is calling them to be. It’s all about matching the gifts and graces of the clergy with the needs of the congregation and community.

Chad: How do you “break-in” a new congregation so to speak?

Robin Wilson: Usually the congregation is the one Breaking in the pastors! It’s all about clear communication. There’s always anxiety during any transition. A congregation is grieving the loss of their previous pastor, the incoming pastor is grieving missing the friends and ministry of his or her previous church. But both congregation and Pastor are excited about moving forward and seeing how God will use them together. Building relationships are key to making this a smooth transition for everyone.

Chad: This happens to a lot of new pastors–you’re going to a new place where people are used to doing things their way. How do you transition into a congregation–trying to draw new members while not shaking up things too much for the long time members?

Robin Wilson: It’s important for pastors not to think that they know everything when they go to a new church. God is already there at work. It’s all about joining in gods work that is in progress there and figuring out how best to move forward together.

Chad: What is your favorite part of going to a new place?

Robin Wilson: I’m always up for a new Adventure! I can’t wait to get to know new people and learn about a new community and see the ways that God is at work there. There’s so much to learn for every pastor in new communities. It’s a joy to see how God works in different places through the church to share God’s love.

Chad: People get attached to their pastors sometimes, how does a pastor ensure a smooth transition as they leave?

Robin Wilson: I think it’s important to prepare the way for the new pastors to start well. I’ve met with my staff and church leaders to discuss how to make the new pastors feel welcome. Getting a church directory together, leaving a list of key people that the new clergy needs to go visit, and helping the members of the church prepare warm welcome by preparing meals, wearing nametags, and introducing the pastors to leaders in the community or some of the things that we are doing to make sure that our new pastor at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church starts well.

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