Saturday, June 23, 2012

Annual Call Sunday - what?

We are in process of moving from our home by the end of June so you can imagine the chaos on every side. Multidimensional chaos as we sort out and downsize!   But just before I return to the grim removing task let me mention one surprise I heard about for the first time when teaching in Tennessee last week.

One of the pastors (with over 30 years experience) shared with the class that he was facing "Call Sunday" that first Sunday of our two week course.  A couple of other students groaned as I asked innocently what this meant.  He explained that this is the designated Sunday each year when the church meets to renew the call to their pastor (and other leaders too).  I asked him whether he had any idea what might happen, and if pastors could be rejected on that day so that they were literally out of their job by Monday.  He replied that actually he had no idea how the vote might go but he was hoping they would invite him to stay a fifth year.  However, he told us that in his first church he had been so surprised by the large negative vote on "Call Sunday" that he had no other option but to resign on the spot.

Of course, as soon as we met after the Call Sunday we were keen to know how it had gone for him. "Well," he commented rather wearily, "they've given me another year!"  Though  he longed for them to discontinue the practice they asserted this was their tradition and common in the Appalachians.

'Call Sunday' certainly makes the pastor (and others) sharply accountable.  But my immediate reaction, knowing how (some) local churches work, is that this assumes a very large measure (too large?) of community maturity.   It does raise the important issue of keeping all of us Christian leaders rightly accountable before Christ and his people.  But what can be said in defense of  an annual Call Sunday?

1 comment:

Michael Duduit said...

Nothing can really be said in defense of the Annual Call. It is an old tradition of some Southern churches where they wish to make sure the pastor stays "under the thumb" of power brokers in the local church.