Appointment-making Week: A Mystery and a Myth

It’s that time of year again, when the Bishop and Cabinet immerse themselves day and night in the appointment-making process.   We will be at Myrtle Beach March 2-6, but we won’t be dipping our toes in the ocean.   We will be praying, discussing, discerning, and studying pastor profiles and church profiles.  It is a team effort, and the entire Cabinet votes on EVERY appointment.   There are many factors that impact our work:  spouses who can’t move because of a job;  families want good schools for their children;  clergy couples;  40+ retirements;  not enough clergy being ordained;  churches wanting young creative pastors (with 25 years of experience); churches needing to lower salaries;  several clergy leaving pastoral ministry.   Some pastors who didn’t ask for a move, may be “plucked up.”  That’s happened to me twice in my ministry, and its a little stressful!  You get the picture.  This is an arduous process.   It’s like putting together a puzzle, but all the pieces don’t quite fit exactly to make a perfect picture.

With all its challenges, its is who we are as Christians and as Methodists.  Jesus was an itinerant minister.  He rarely stayed in one place very long, but instead traveled to small towns, the wilderness, by the Sea of Galilee, into Jerusalem, and even into Samaria.   He was not confined to one “congregation” but instead went about the countryside, seeking lost sheep.   The apostles followed Jesus’ example, and Paul journeyed across the Mediterranean, sharing good news.  Our founder, John Wesley said

“…I should myself preach even my congregation ‘asleep’ were I to stay in one place an entire year.”

“No one whom I ever yet knew has all the talents which are needful for beginning, continuing, and perfecting the work of grace in a whole congregation.”

There are all kinds of rumors, myth and mystery about appointment-making week.  Let me assure you we are not just throwing darts on a dart board.   We are very prayerful, careful and hopeful that we are matching the gifts of pastors to the needs of churches.   We covet your prayers as we enter into this season.   Despite our imperfect system, we serve a perfect God, who will take all our efforts, and make ministry happen.   Pastors come and pastors go.   Let us remember the words of Paul, an itinerant preacher.   I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth1 Corinthians 3:6-7




News from District Missionaries Rev. Luke Rhyee and Sara Flores

Here’s an update on our District Missionaries, Rev. Luke Rhyee in Guatemala, and Sara Flores in Ecuador.   Find out how you can be involved in their international mission work!

Missionary Update:  Rev. Luke Rhyee, M.D.

By David Anderson

I am writing this article because I have had the privilege to travel on a mission trip to Guatemala. This trip was in the spring of 2018 and quite frankly has changed my life. I will never think of the issues that face a person living in this country in the same light.

We left Columbia on a flight to Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX. After a long layover and a four-hour flight to Guatemala, we arrived about 8:00 pm. Then we boarded the van for a five-hour drive to Quetzaltenango where the Bethesda Medical Clinic is located. After a short first night we were amazed to see how this facility has served the people located in this town which we now call Xela. We identified work around the clinic that needed to be done and planned our week. We worked around the clinic on our first day and got to see in action what a great need for Medical and Dental services were in the city. This emphasized the needs that were identified in the last article about the scholarship programs for the Medical and Dental Students.

The next day we loaded up the van with dental chairs and equipment and went to Nahuala. We held a Vacation Bible School for over a hundred students while the Dental and Medical Staff held clinics and served countless persons. The children in the Dental Clinics were the ones with the greatest need. This really brought home the need to train potential caregivers in Guatemala to serve some of these people.

On the way to Nahuala we passed through a village and I saw a young girl with a baby strapped to her back. When I looked at that young girl, I saw the face of my granddaughter who is nine years of age. The two are  approximately the same stature and size.  I asked Dr. Luke if this young girl was caring for a sibling and he said, “no, that was probably her child”. Girls who finish Elementary School are usually then married to produce more children who can work to support the family. This is one of the main problems in underdeveloped countries. There is little value seen in continuing with further education (especially for girls). So, when Healing Guatemala can identify the families that are receptive to continuing their children’s education to serve others, we need to contribute to ensure that resources are available to help these people learn to help themselves. Please consider this effort while planning your mission work for the future.

In addition to we did there are many other ministries, such as providing equipment for the disabled and those with special needs. A group in the United States sent wheelchairs, crutches, canes, etc. which were directed to those in desperate need. Living with a disability is difficult in the US. It is even harder in Guatemala. There are barely any facilities for the disabled and social infrastructure for the disabled is almost nil. To make matters worse, most of them are so poor that they cannot afford to buy basic equipment for the disabled. This could only meet a small portion of the need. The disabled live as the marginalized and are almost always discriminated against in Guatemala which makes them doubt that God may have forgotten them.

In future columns I will share some of our other experiences like the Vacation Bible Schools, the feeding of the homeless who live in and around the garbage dump in Xela, and the work around the clinic which included helping build the third floor and upgrade wiring for a new X-ray machine.

Dr. Luke is a missionary designated as a mission special of the Columbia District.   To support this missionary and this ministry, make funds payable to:  Healing Guatemala, P.O. Box 1835, Duluth, GA 30096.

To discover more of his work, go to: or find Healing Guatemala  on facebook.


Missionary Update:  Sara Flores

The following is a winter greeting from Sara Flores and her husband Dakin Cook

Dear Partners in Mission,

Greetings from Ecuador in the name of the Lord! We would like to express our deep gratitude for your support of God’s mission in Ecuador this year through your prayers, financial support and visits with our local congregations. Your support in these critical areas of our church make it possible for us to carry out important programs together in partnership. We give thanks to God for your love in Christ, and we give thanks for the lives and ministry of the pastoral team and leaders in Ecuador.

Most of our congregations and especially the new mission initiatives of the Methodist Church in Ecuador (EUMCE) are emerging ministries whose main participants are children. We give thanks because God is calling us to work with children and families in need. It is a blessing that 8 local churches now have important After School Programs serving children and teenagers, offering programs focused on the development of faith, education, health and nutrition. Our goal is to support, strengthen and expand these wonderful ministries.

We are thankful to God because you are willing to be part of God’s mission in Ecuador. We appreciate your prayers and support through offerings and gifts. We thank God that every year we feel closer to our Methodist Churches in the region and in the world, we are not alone, we can count on and be part of the unity of the Church, the Body of Christ. And we greatly appreciate your partnership in mission this year and hope that you will continue to pray and work with us.

Please consider supporting our priority project this year – the purchase of land for our children’s ministry in El Prado. This project was started in 2012 by Sara and volunteers in the Church on a former dairy farm that had been confiscated by the government some 25 years ago. The farm has been divided up into small plots for each of the families that had worked the farm over the years – just enough land for 3 or 4 milk cows to pasture and a spot for a home, many of which were built in the old milking barns. We were invited into the community by a family with Methodist connections in the US and started working with the children on Saturday afternoons with Christian education, activities and a small snack with some 30 children in a small room loaned to the project by a local family. Currently, the program rents a large space with 4 classrooms, a kitchen and dining area and serves over 120 children on Saturdays providing a full lunch, Christian education, help with school studies, health education and physical activities. The project has grown and now needs its own permanent space to ensure the future of the program. The project has raised and saved funds to purchase land over the years but still needs some $15,000 in additional funds to be able to purchase an adequately sized lot to build on.

May God bless your lives and ministries, Sara Flores and Dakin Cook

Sara is a United Methodist Missionary, sent on our behalf by the General Board of Global Ministries, to help to establish the Methodist ethos of ‘abundant grace’ in Ecuador.    The Columbia District through the District Connectional Ministries has established a covenant relationship with Sara.   If you would like to join in supporting Sara you may do so by making contributions to the SC UM Conference Treasurers Office.   Mark your contribution as “CO MISSIONARY”.

Christmas Luncheon for Ministers and Spouses


You are invited to attend the Columbia District Ministers’ Spouses Christmas Luncheon to be held Wednesday, December 11, 2019 from 11:30-1:30 at Trenholm Road UMC (Dining Room) 3401 Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC. Cost of lunch is $11 per person.

Menu: Buffet: Pork Lion and Baked Chicken; Zucchini and Tomato Casserole; Mac & Cheese; Yellow Rice; Salad; Variety Deserts; Rolls; Coffee and Tea.

 Singing of Christmas Carols and Special Music led by Rev. Sarah Fletcher 

 CHILD CARE PROVIDED (no cost). Coordinate with Veronica.   Reservations and check should be sent to Veronica Williams, 4908 Colonial Drive, Columbia, SC 29203 by Friday, December 6.

DISTRICT INFORMATION:  SPOUSES RETREAT – The Conference Ministers’ Spouses Retreat will be held March 6-8, 2020 at Myrtle Beach, SC. More details to follow.

 CLUB DUES are $5.00. Make check payable to Columbia District Spouses Club and mail to Veronica Williams at the District Office.

Staff-Parish Relations Committee Training, Feb. 2, 2020

We are inviting the ENTIRE SPRC and ALL Pastors. 

SPRC & Pastor Training, February 2, 2020, 3:00pm, Mt. Hebron UMC , Christian Life Center, 3050 Leaphart Road, West Columbia.

The following topics will be included.   You can also sign up at the training to receive sample personnel policies, discipline forms, performance reviews, safe sanctuary policies, leave forms, job descriptions, etc.

  1.  Opening Session – Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson, D.S.  – General Duties of SPRC  – Local Church Sexual Harassment Policy and On-line SPRC Library Resources
  2.  Break-out Groups based on Staff Size (see below)
  • Chris Carver, Human Resources Director, Mt. Horeb UMC  – “Best Practices for SPRC in the Large Church”  (25 + employees)
  • Rev. Matt Yon, Executive Pastor, Covenant UMC– “Best Practices for SPRC in the Mid-size Church”  (6-24 employees)
  • Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson – “Best Practices for the SPRC in the Small Church” (5 or less employees)

REGISTER AT THIS LINK – Either the pastor or SPRC Chair can register all persons.   Please enter their names and complete the form at this link:

Leadership Training, Jan 12, 2020

Excellence-in-Leadership imageColumbia District  

Excellence in Ministry Training Sunday, January 12, 2020  

Washington Street United Methodist Church   

Opening Session: 3:00pm                                          Workshops: 3:30-5:00pm


*You will attend only one workshop.   You are encouraged to bring several staff and church leaders.

  • How to Reach New People:  Practical Evangelism” – Rev. Martin Quick, Associate Pastor, Journey UMC
  • Taking Care of God’s Money– Beth Westbury, Conference Treasurer
  •  “Taking Care of Business:  Trustees” –  Kay Crowe, Conference Chancellor
  • “Congregational Care” – Rev. Faye Stephens, Minister of Congregational Care, Mt. Horeb UMC
  •  “Resolving Conflict in the Church” –  Rev. Millie Nelson Smith, Congregational Specialist for Columbia and Hartsville and African American Church
  • “How to Start and Grow an Endowment Ministry” – Douglas D. Himes, Ph.D. President, Douglas Himes Associates LLC
  • “Think outside the Box: Creative Worship” – Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson, D.S. 
  • “A Mission Miscellany: A little of this and a little of that from an Outreach Perspective” – Rev. Gary D. Phillips, Salem UM
  • “Advocacy for Justice”  – MORE Justice Leaders, Rev. Connie Barnes, Rev. Smoke Kanipe, Rev. Joel Jones
  • “Epworth Local Church Representative: Be the Face and Voice” – Sherry Mims, Associate Dir. of Church Relations and Assistant to the President; Lisa Livingston Fusco, Senior Director of Development 
  • “Strengthening Youth Ministry” – Chris Lynch, Congregational Specialist, Rock Hill and Spartanburg and Ministry with Young People
  • “Strengthening Ministry with Children and Families” – Rev. Taylor Pafford, Minister of Children, Youth & Families, Washington Street UMC 
  • “Discipleship in the 21st Century Church” – Rev. Dr. Christopher Greene 

Click here to register;  (deadline, January 6, 2020)

Bishop’s School: Preaching Good News in Uncertain Times

This is a reminder about the upcoming Bishop’s School of Ministry, September 3-5, 2019, Sheraton Convention Center and Hotel in Myrtle Beach.   The current registration deadline is Friday August 9, 2019 (10 days away).

The 2019 Bishop’s School of Ministry – “Preaching Good News In Uncertain Times” – is designed to help you understand and preach about the specific changes your congregation faces – pastorally, insightfully, courageously, and with love and grace.



District Refugee Children’s Summer Program Needs Your Help

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

A few years ago, the Columbia District Connectional Ministries Team launched a summer enrichment program for  refugee children in our community.    This summer, Hand y Mano, the 2019 Refugee Children’s Summer Program will be hosted at Grace United Methodist Church, 410 Harbison Blvd. Columbia, SC. Monday, August 5th through Friday, August 9th,  8:45 to 12:45.  We need volunteers who enjoy children and no experience is necessary.  Must be Safe Sanctuary trained.  Come and have fun!  Contact Martha Thompson at 315-7811 for more information