Today is Moving Day for United Methodist clergy and churches. For those who grew up in the United Methodist Church, this statement needs no explanation. Every preacher and family knows the significance of Moving Day.
For those not familiar, in the United Methodist Church the pastors are appointed, not hired and fired by individual churches. We are a connectional system, and those appointments occur on a yearly basis. Most of the time the pastor will stay at a particular church for 3-5 years, though some do move after one year and others may stay 10 years or more. However, the appointment is from year to year.
Since we are appointed, we all move on the same day, at least officially. Again, there are always exceptions. The way it works is that today the tenure of the pastor to their previous church ends at noon today, and the appointment to the new church begins at noon today, so theoretically a church is never without a pastor.
Over the last week or so pastors and churches have been saying goodbye to each other even as those pastors and churches have been in communication with their appointments as they prepare for this transition.
But today is the BIG DAY! You will see moving vans and U-Haul trucks all up and down the highways of Mississippi today as churches prepare to officially welcome their new pastor. It is hard to express the anticipation of driving down the highway and seeing a road sign that you are entering the county in which you will live, knowing that this place will be your home for hopefully the next few to several years. You have met several people from the church already, but you know that some people you meet today will end up being lifelong friends, while others may prove to be a thorn in your side in the future!
What you have been preparing for over the last three months is finally coming to pass, and if you have children then the emotions are ramped up even higher. How will they like the new place? Will they make friends? Is the school really as strong or weak as I have heard? How will our family be accepted? Will I as the pastor be accepted and allowed to lead, or is what looks so promising right now just a facade masking a different reality?
These are just a few of the dozens of thoughts and emotions as you pull up to the house in which you will live, a house you know the previous pastors lived in, a house you nope that pastor took care of and/or the church took care of, and one in which you may have even visited in years past because one of your friends used to serve that church!
Even now I can close my eyes and picture scenes driving up to the different places we lived, such as seeing that Yazoo County marker as we were on I-55 South headed from Tupelo to Ellison. I remember it raining the day we moved from Starkville to Columbus, trying to get that U-Haul as close to the garage as possible so those unloading would not get wet. I remember trying to get the moving van up the driveway on Evans Street in Vicksburg since our house was in the middle of a hill, watching the moving van try to go up a driveway backwards while turning and seeking to avoid the electrical wire running across the street as well as not go off the side of the hill beside the driveway.  Still not sure how that guy got it up there!  And I remember walking into the kitchen where we already had a stocked fridge and pantry because the church has asked us to send them our favorite foods.

I remember moving to Philadelphia and having Matthew Breazeale and Jackson Adams there ready to help me unload my books which were weighing down the bed of the Toyota Tacoma, how they looked silently at each other and at all those books as I asked them to go with me to the church to help get them to my office. They never said a word, and they worked hard the entire time, but I laugh when thinking about how they must have described all those books to each other and to their parents!

I am writing this today on Moving Day because I am NOT moving!  I have that luxury to write these reflections even as others are in transit or unloading their stuff right now.  We have loved every place we have served, and they have all been good churches, and it is a true blessing to be able to say that with honesty.  We love Philadelphia First UMC, and we are thrilled we are appointed for another year.

Blessings on Moving Day for all of the pastors, their families, and the churches for whom today is such a significant day.  My prayers are with you.