The periodic breakfast gathering of the ordained took place at the appointed restaurant at the appointed time. This was a meeting the parson attended occasionally. It was not the appeal of the clergy that brought him but the buffet of cholesterol laden foods.
No sooner had the parson brought his plate with eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, grits, biscuits, butter and jam to the table, the conversation began. Bob Laidback was the first to mention the purple elephant sitting at the adjacent table.
“You guys heard about the possibility they are going to do away with guaranteed appointments?”
Edwin Slowstart responded, “What are you talking about?”
“There’s a commission that’s supposed to find ways of making the clergy more effective. And it looks like they are going to recommend removing the guaranteed appointment for elders.”
“How can they do that?” asked Marvin Complacent.
“The commission can’t, Marvin,” explained Bob. “But they are going to recommend to the General Conference elders no longer be guaranteed an appointment.”
“But if they don’t guarantee a church, well, that would be like setting somebody up to be fired.
The parson was taking in every word of the conversation as he consumed each particle on his plate. After he had sopped the plate with the remains of the biscuit he’d filled with grape jelly and drained the remaining liquid from his coffee cup, he turned in his chair to look toward the source of his gastric satisfaction as Allen Seldomup began talking about how the pastors could not always be held accountable for the bad church they were appointed to. Marvin Complacent was echoing Allen’s sentiments as the parson pushed his chair back from the table and headed off to appraise the buffet once again.
Returning to his place among the up-to-now secure clerics, this time with only two sausages, a small pile of assorted fruits, and a cinnamon twist, the parson deposited himself once again among the elders, expressing appreciation to the server who’d just refilled his decaf.
Sid Everstriving was giving his take on the possible recommendation. “Look, fellows, we all know there are too many who take advantage of the system. When we have a minimum salary and a guaranteed appointment there’s no incentive for folks to work hard. And frankly, if we stopped reappointing ineffective pastors we would have a reason to close some ineffective churches.”
“I understand what you’re saying,” chimed in Harvey Dormant, “but how are they going to take into account a superintendent just not liking and wanting to get rid of a pastor?”
“What’s the matter, Harvey,” asked Bill Risingstar, “you’re not getting along with the superintendent?”
“Well, now that you’ve mentioned it,” said Harvey, “we do have our differences and I’d be a little concerned if he had the power to fire me.”
“Well, I think doing away with guaranteed appointments is something that would help United Methodist,” Bill Ontop concluded.
“That’s easy for you to say,” replied Allen Seldomup, “you pastor a church that pays the highest salary in the district.”
The parson, having finished his cinnamon twist and drained the third cup of coffee now staked the plates so as to make clearing the table easier for the server. He pushed back from the table, picked up his check and started calculating the tip. As he did, Jim Diminished said, “Parson, you haven’t said what you think about guaranteed appointments.”
The parson stood and placed some bills on the table in preparation for leaving. “Oh, I’m not sure I should get into this, fellows. You see I’m retired; and my status is the most guaranteed in the group.”
The parson bid the brethren farewell. He headed out to the car where Charlie Brown, his faithful canine companion waited. “Charlie,” said the parson as he started the car, “we need to go exercise. I want to be around to see who survives this no guaranteed appointment thing.”
Charlie Brown made no comment. Truth be told his was the most guaranteed of all the appointments.
Graphic by subscription with Clip Art [dot] Com