Mary Brooke Casad, Clayton Oliphint, Richard Hearne and Gary Mueller vote on electronic keypads during a General Conference session. - By Wil Murphy
Plano’s Mueller adds amendment on women, race and age to proposal on guaranteed appointments
By SHERON C. PATTERSON
The Rev. Gary Mueller, senior pastor of First UMC Plano, was at the forefront of softening the blow to end guaranteed appointments for clergy. The highly controversial legislation came on the floor for vote quietly
May 1 and was approved quickly. However, it is under judicial review, and a ruling on whether it will stand is expected in coming months.
Under this legislation, bishops and cabinets will be allowed to give elders less than full-time appointments.
Also, bishops and their cabinets, with the approval of their boards of ordained ministry and annual conference’s executive session, can put elders on unpaid transitional leave for up to 24 months.
The “Mueller Amendment” also lifted up concerns for the inclusion for women, persons of color and older persons.
“Prior to General Conference, I had been working with folks across the country on an amendment because of a concern about what would happen to women, people of color and those who are older if the security of appointments went away,” Mueller said. “I crafted an amendment in conversation with the North Texas delegation, and
it became known as the Mueller Amendment.”
“It was approved overwhelmingly by the Higher Education and Ministry Committee. Then suddenly it went out on Twitter,” he said. “The amendment lifted up concerns for those who speak up for justice, those engaged in prophetic ministry and those who are on the edges of the
theological spectrum. Now there is accountability, dialogue and reporting,” he said.
“I was shocked when the guaranteed appointment legislation was not taken off the consent calendar,” he said. “It was an important enough issue for us to talk about on the floor of General Conference. I am disappointed that the entire General Conference did not talk about it.”
But there was a good bit of conversation on Facebook and other social media about it, he said.
Don Underwood (left) talks strategy with Ron Henderson. - By Wil Murphy
The amendment “provides protection and data in conversation with the bishop on
an annual basis,” Mueller said. “The amendment provides
that there will be a team that advises the bishop and the cabinet each year on the process of making missional appointments to raise questions about women, persons of color and older folks so those folks are not being left on the edges because it is easier to appoint certain people to certain places.
The amendment provides that the bishop and cabinet will report to the executive committee of the Board of Ministry annually statistics about who is not receiving appointments. That information will be passed on to the committee on the episcopacy
at the annual conference and jurisdictional levels as a part of the bishop’s evaluation. The items built in look at data and transparency to see if there is a trend developing of certain folks not getting appointments.
“Here is how our Annual Conference will be impacted,” he said. “We will create a team of eight people, half laity, half clergy, including the dean of the cabinet. They will meet annually with the bishop to look at trends around missional appointments with attention to women, persons of color and older persons. We will measure the impact of doing away with guaranteed appointments. It will
begin good conversation and transparency around missional appointments. I think it will be great conversation, and we will be a healthier conference as a result of it.”
Clayton Oliphint gave high praise to Mueller’s efforts.
“The guaranteed appointment legislation went through on consent calendar. They tried to lift it off, but it was defeated. Hard work had been done in the committee, especially by our own Gary Mueller. His amendment made the legislation palatable for those who had strong concerns about the implementation
of the ending of guaranteed appointments.”