By Rev. Cindy Marino
A few weeks ago, I received “The Call.” It was our District Superintendent, Rev. Jeffry Bross, informing me that the Bishop and Cabinet of the Northern Illinois Conference had made a new appointment for our Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Daniel Cochran. This call was not completely unexpected. United Methodist pastors agree to something called “itineracy;” that is, we are appointed at any particular church (or “charge”) for one year at a time, and we agree to move as needed.
That doesn’t make it any easier! I have to admit my first response to my beloved DS was, “No! You can’t have him!”
But, in our United Methodist system, pastors are not called or hired by the local church. Instead, we are deployed; sent by the Bishop to lead where our gifts are most needed. John Wesley was, himself, an “itinerant” preacher who traveled from town to town in England, setting up Methodist societies. He believed that moving pastors frequently not only made the best use of the various talents of the pastors, but, also made sure the ministry of the church remained in the capable hands of the laity! Thus, he set the example for us today.
All of this means that we recognize that our pastors are “resources of the conference,” the larger connection of the church of which Grace is a part. We, as pastors, don’t work for Grace Church. We work for God and are appointed to do that work at Grace for a particular period of time through an appointment.
Thankfully, appointments are generally longer than they’ve been in the past. We had Pastor Daniel for three years, about the minimum these days. But as we well know, Pastor Daniel has gifts and abilities beyond his years. We knew we wouldn’t have him long.
All of this is to say that I am personally going to miss him greatly. Pastor Daniel has been a true partner in ministry and a brother in Christ. His passion for leading families with young children has led to blossoming growth at Grace. His ability to support and connect our faith formation groups has breathed new life into the desire to learn and grow. His work with our youth through Confirmation has brought new meaning to the definition of what “church” can be and indeed, is, for them and for their families! Pastor Daniel has worked to give wings to our teams that are passionate around issues of justice. His messages in worship have served to teach and inspire. I have been incredibly blessed by his time here at Grace.
Many have asked where Pastor Daniel’s new appointment will be. He’s not going far! He will be serving as the solo pastor for Aldersgate UMC in Wheaton, Illinois. Aldersgate UMC lost their pastor to an unexpected illness a few weeks ago. Pastor Daniel’s first order of business will be to care for a grieving congregation, not an easy challenge. As a connectional church, Grace UMC will provide whatever resources Pastor Daniel needs for his ministry among the people of Aldersgate UMC to flourish. Because that’s who we are and what we do.