On Sunday, April 30, 2017, Jim Bateman, chair of the Pastor Staff Parish Relations Committe announced a change in pastoral leadership at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church. Reading a letter from Rev. Susan Brims, District Superintendent of the Central East District of the Desert Southwest Conference, Jim announced that the Rev. Eve Williams had just been appointed as pastor of Advent United Methodist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, effective July 1, 2017. Here is the letter:
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
After much prayer and discussion, I would like to share with you that Robert T. Hoshibata, Resident Bishop, and the Appointive Cabinet of the Desert Southwest Conference have discerned a change in your pastoral leadership. Bishop Hoshibata intends to appoint Rev. Eve Williams as pastor of Advent United Methodist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada effective July 1, 2017. We know that Pastor Eve has been a great blessing to your church and with this new appointment her presence with you will be greatly missed. We also anticipate with joy the wonderful work that Pastor Eve will do at Advent UMC. Her love for worship and spiritual formation will be a great blessing to Advent.
Pastor Eve [who was appointed associate pastor of PVUMC July 1, 2013] will remain as your associate pastor until June 30, 2017. Your Staff Parish Relations Committee has anticipated that for this time the position of Associate Pastor will not be filled.
The Bishop and Cabinet hold you in prayer as you go through this time of transition. We join our hearts in support of Pastor Eve and William, the people of Advent UMC, as well as the people of your church.
District Superintendent of the Central East District
UMC Desert Southwest Conference
In his announcement to the congregation on Sunday, April 30, 2017, Jim expressed our love for Pastor Eve and how much she will be missed. I echo that we will dearly miss Pastor Eve as she concludes her ministry with us, and ask you hold her and her family in prayer in this time of change, as well as our church. We will be planning a time to celebrate her ministry here with us at PVUMC. The Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee will also be looking at the pastoral responsibilities and a plan to address the needs of the church as we move forward. In Faith, Dave Summers, Senior Pastor
Kent Heltne and Diana Bode spoke to the congregation on Sunday, May 7 (Kent at 8 and 9:30 am and Diana at 11 am) as a follow up to the news about Rev. Eve Williams’ appointment to Advent UMC in Las Vegas. Here is the message they relayed after meeting with church leaders during the week:
On behalf of the leadership from Church Council, Finance, and Pastor Staff Parish Relations Committee, I’m coming to you today to say a few words about all that has happened since last week’s announcement about Pastor Eve’s potential transfer to Advent UMC in Las Vegas. We know there is much confusion, pain, distrust and anger regarding the process around this decision and the way it was communicated. We want to take a few minutes and to let you know what’s happened since last Sunday as well as give you some additional insight into the process that was undertaken prior to last week’s announcement.
Last Monday, church leadership requested a meeting with Pastor Dave and the District Superintendent, Susan Brim. This meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was very frank and, at times, contentious. I can’t imagine that there is an emotion or a thought that any of our church family was feeling after last Sunday that wasn’t expressed at that meeting. The meeting took 2 ½ hours and covered a wide range of issues.
All of us came out of the meeting feeling like we had been able to communicate to the DS and to Pastor Dave how we felt about this decision at this time and all of us were much more hopeful as a result of the meeting.
We requested, and the DS agreed, to go back to the Cabinet and have them re-evaluate their decision. I’m told this never happens once a decision has been made by the Cabinet. The second thing we pushed back on was any decision to go from two Elders to One. All of us feel that at this critical time we need to be staffed with two Elders and our two Deacons. The DS will also take this request to the full cabinet and the Bishop.
With that as background, Kent / Diana gave the floor to Pastor Dave, who said:
There were three large issues that needed to be addressed. First, was the departure of about 30 families from our congregation over this past year as we made our decision to be a more inclusive congregation. It was a heartache for me to see these families leave. Second, we know that the Conference needs Pastor Eve to be the pastor of her own church. The Conference always needs competent, young clergy to move into leadership. Our Conference does not send enough younger people into ministry to fill the positions we have available. I have been asked for several years by our District Superintendent if Eve was available to leave PV and take her own church. The past two years I have said we did not want to let her leave us yet. Finally, our departure of church members and our annual budget deficit left me worried about a large reduction in our income for this next year (starting July 1). I believed we were at a place where we needed to eliminate one clergy position in the church, since our clergy are the largest portion of the budget. I consulted with our Bishop, District Superintendent and our Pastor Staff Parish Relations chair. I do regret that I did not consult with the entire Committee or with the Finance Ministry Team on this decision, which would have been helpful. I felt as Senior Pastor it was my responsibility to make the difficult decision here. The church leadership and I are working now to evaluate what we need for our clergy staffing and how our budget can help this to happen. — Pastor Dave Summers
Finally, the congregation heard from Pastor Eve, who said:
First of all, I want to thank all of you for your love and support, particularly the concern you have shown for my son. To say that it is overwhelming and humbling would be an understatement.
Many of you have shared that you have had similar experiences of getting sudden and shocking news of a long distance move. You either are or your parents were employees of companies that have this as a part of their culture or are members of the military or maybe are even in ministry. So you know the journey that we’ve been on: it began in shock and grief. We love our church community, we love our home and support system in Phoenix, and we are grateful for a great school that William is attending. We grieved the loss of all of those things and many more.
But pretty quickly, God began to work on me and reminded me that often two things can be true at the same time. It is possible to feel grief, but it is also possible to take the next steps of the journey and begin moving into a place of hopefulness and excitement. We don’t need to deny one in order to also hold space for the other.
My son and I know that, wherever the next leg of our journey either takes us or leaves us, God is already there and there is ministry to be done.
To slightly paraphrase a quote by 14th century Christian mystic and theologian, Julian of Norwich, “all is well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” I love you all very much.
NOTE: The United Methodist Church appoints pastors to churches each year. Sometimes, they remain at the same church, and sometimes not. “Itinerancy” refers specifically to the commitment by pastors to go and serve wherever their bishops send them. “Appointment” is the action taken by bishops. These are different, yet related.
If anyone has any questions, please see any of the PSPRC committee members or email them:
Jim Bateman firstname.lastname@example.org (chair)
Pat Bacon email@example.com
Kent Heltne firstname.lastname@example.org
John Lomax email@example.com
Roger McKee firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Mosser email@example.com
Jim Poley firstname.lastname@example.org
Maureen Rogers email@example.com
Erin Zeller firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pray with us:
Holy God, you have blessed us all with a loving and caring church family and we have all been blessed to be a blessing in our ministry to many, many people over the years. We thank you for this church, our pastors and our church staff for being such an important part of our lives. We look forward to the hope of continuing the impact and ministry of PVUMC in our community and the world in the coming years. Lead us with your Holy Spirit to do your will and to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of each of us and for the transformation of the world. In the loving name of Christ, Amen.
Kent Heltne, Lay Leader, and Diana Bode, Church Council Chair
in conjunction with Rev. Dr. Dave Summers, Senior Pastor and Rev. Eve Williams
602.840.8360, ext 131